Although I'd agree with anyone that there are just some kinds of cold days that are beyond miserable, I have to say I'm a cold weather kind of gal at heart. I love winter clothing, wrapping up in thick sweaters, trying different kinds of knots in my scarves every day (I wouldn't be a real French girl if I didn't have a drawer full of scarves and at least five different ways of putting them on), cradling a cup of hot chocolate or a steaming bowl of soup in my cold hands and then savoring them slowly, letting the warmth seep through me, all things I am happy for every time the calendar hits December.
Unfortunately, my ideal winter and the one I actually get here are two rather different things. I suppose I should be thankful that we don't get three feet of snow at a time the way my sister and her family do in Chicago, but a little snow once in a while would be nice, and by that I don't mean snow that I might see if I were up between 6:00 and 6:17am before it has essentially vanished, making one doubt it was ever here to begin with.
Last year there was one such day, unexpectedly. Granted, it caused the whole nation to grind to a halt and I did lock myself out of the house that morning while walking the "one who brings the crazy." But even while heavily pregnant, somewhat inappropriately dressed, trying to control one very spazzy dog reconnecting with something in her Dutch, barge-pulling, canine DNA, and walking over to the hotel nearby to call A. to come home and let me in, I was still thoroughly charmed by the six inches of snow through which I was trudging. Call me crazy.
So, when it turns out we probably aren't going to get snow like that again any time soon, but the weather is cold enough and gray enough and soggy enough to make you want to stick your head in the sand of your couch and wish for naptime, springtime, Hammertime, any other time really, I turn to food to feed my
emotions longings. So what if the only remains of the snow that fell an hour ago is the ice trapped in the grooves of the horse track in Hyde Park? Get thee to the kitchen and make some Norwegian Coffee Cake I say. Or, if you already did that, you know, that other cold, gray and generally unpalatable day, slice up what's left of it and make some bread pudding. Come on, you know you want to, even if it's not that cold or gray. Well, I did anyway.
Full disclosure: I had been having a bread pudding sort of obsession for a while, as if the only possible thing one could make with slightly dry bread is bread pudding. Luckily for me, in this particular instance I had plenty of internet support with Kerrin and Y both suitably impressed by the gargantuan size of above-mentioned coffee cake, and Kerrin suggesting I get A. to make his specialty of pain perdu (French toast) with what was left, while Y suggested bread pudding. What? What was that? Bread pudding?? I'm so glad you said that, that would never have occurred to me.
Of course, not being one to waste a good opportunity, I did ask A. to make thin slices of French toast for our afternoon snack the next day which I garnished with some salted butter caramel. And then there was enough left to make six ramekins of bread pudding. That coffee cake was colossal, true story.
I know you want me to give you a really detailed recipe and everything, but I'm only going to tell you how you make the simplest bread pudding ever, people. And no, this isn't make crème anglaise or crème pâtissière and then add it to the bread kind of bread pudding, this is even simpler than that. (A. doesn't really like custardy bread pudding; I make the constraints work for me, if you want to make something more complicated, knock yourself out).
Sneak peek of the next edition of my random adventures through food and life: On Peanuts and the Hyde Park Squirrels of Doom.
Laziest Bread Pudding Ever
inspired by the interwebs
- You heat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F).
- You cut up the bread into slices or sliced chunks, not too thick about 1cm (half an inch) is good. 4 slices will probably be enough for 6 ramekins.
- You take some dairy: Whole Jersey Milk for me, about 300ml (1 cup + 3Tbsp), but it could be half-fat milk, single or double cream, creme fraiche, any combination of these and more, etc...
- You take some eggs: about 1 egg for every 100ml (1/3 cup + 1Tbsp) of dairy product.
- You add anywhere from 1-3 Tbsp of sugar, whatever kind you want: I used brown sugar because the coffee cake was slightly sweetened with brown sugar already and I was adding...
- Some stuff to tie the layers together somehow like raisins or nuts or in my case more chunks of Valrhona orange chocolate.
- Some spice you might want to infuse the whole thing like cardamom for me because the coffee cake was already cardamom-flavored.
- You layer the bread, the additional stuff (raisins, nuts, chocolate, whatever) alternately almost up to the top of the dish.
- You mix the dairy, eggs and sugar, you throw a pinch of the spice in there or alternately on top of the whole thing before you stick it in the oven (kinda depends on the spice).
- You pour the liquid mixture over the bread, filling the dish up to reach the top layer of bread if not soaking it.
- And you can either do this or not, I put the ramekins in a big baking dish which I filled halfway up with hot water, and bake between 20-30mn depending on the consistency you want. A. likes it just soft, not liquidy or custardy, so it was 30mn for me.
- Serve with cream, whipped cream, ice cream, or any other sort of indulgent thing you want, or just eat them plain and warm.