Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Project 02: If Life Gives You Bad Bread, Make Bread Pudding

I blame it on Martha. As I was making one of  my weekly rounds at the neighborhood library and flipped open one of Martha Stewart Living magazine, my jaw dropped when I saw her recipe for a Apple-Honey Challah bread. It was all due to that gorgeous glossy photo. Check out the photo and recipe here.

All my past memories of failed bread-making attempts went out the window, and believe me, there were many. Granted, I was in elementary school and first started cooking, but they were such failures (think inedible bricks disguised as dinner rolls) that I swore I would never attempt to make bread again. That is, until I saw that perfect photo on the last page of Martha's magazine...

So, I dutifully gathered all the listed ingredients (sans apple since I forgot) and took it slowly step-by-step. It was an intense experience, totaling over five hours of kneading, proofing, stressing and baking.

The end result was a bit disappointing. The loaf looked well enough on the outside, but the inside showed an uneven crumb and flatten air bubbles (according to bakers, that means I've used old yeast). Thankfully, it tasted much better than it looked—with strong tones of honey and wheat.

So, what to do with a dense loaf of bread? Let it sit out for a day to get stale... then make bread pudding! I had some ripe bananas and chocolate chips on hand, so I altered a basic bread pudding recipe and created the Chunky Monkey Bread Pudding.

Chunky Monkey Bread Pudding
Serves 8 (or 6 hungry monkeys)
1. Take a half loaf of stale bread, cube it into 1-inch pieces and toast briefly in an 350 degree oven for about 8 mins.
2. Mix 2 eggs with 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract) with 1/4 tb salt, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 1/2 cup whole milk.
3. Place toasted bread cubes in a casserole dish, sprinkle 2 sliced bananas on top and scatter a handful of chocolate chips (or more if desired).
4. Pour the custard mixture over, sprinkle sugar on top and bake for 50 minutes in an 350 degree oven till golden brown.
5. Enjoy!

It was warm, gooey, and had just the right amount of sweetness. I organized a small group of Sweet Tooths to help me polish it off with a movie—it was a good night.

Lessons learned from this? Bread pudding is a savior and never again will I scoff at $5 loaves of bread. Good bread is well worth its price.

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