Saturday, March 26, 2011

Inspiration Nation Very Cherry Raisin Bread Pudding - 3/23/11

As I mentioned over at the main blog, I picked up two loaves of Pepperidge Farm Raisin Swirl Bread, with the intention of making some bread pudding.  I was trying to think of a way to incorporate fruit cocktail into the mix, kind of recreating a noodle pudding recipe I was particularly fond of.  Turns out I did not need to get too creative, as I already had this in my recipe archives, from back in the day when Sara Moulton ruled five nights a week over at Food Network:

1 1/2 loaves white or wheat bread (day-old bread works great)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter or margarine
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten
16-ounce can fruit cocktail
8 1/4-ounce can crushed pineapple
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dark raisins

Preheat 350 degrees F.
Tear each slice of bread into about 5 or 6 pieces and place in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, place the milk, sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and eggs. Mix well, until the sugar dissolves. Add the fruit cocktail, pineapple, pecans, and raisins, and then gently fold in the torn bread, making sure it soaks up the liquid ingredients. Pour the mixture into a greased 9 by 13-inch baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes, stirring once after 15 or 20 minutes. Stirring helps rich bread pudding bake evenly. Serve cold or hot, depending on the season and your mood.

Still, I feel the need to tinker and tweek a bit, so I'm headed over to Publix for chili ingredients and bread pudding inspiration.  More to come ...

Inspiration Nation Very Cherry Raisin Bread Pudding

2 loaves Pepperidge Farm Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread 
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1 - 15 ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese
3/4 cup melted butter (1 1/2 sticks) + 2 tablespoons
2 cups half and half 

2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

16-ounce can "Very Cherry" fruit cocktail , drained
1/2 cup lightly toasted pine nuts (Fisher brand pine nuts are already toasted)

1/2 cup dark raisins, chopped
1/2 cup cherry infused dried cranberries, chopped
1 - 12 ounce jar of Smucker's Orchard's Finest Tart Cherry Preserves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut or tear bread into 6 pieces.  Place bread in a very large mixing bowl and set aside.

Add the sugar to the eggs and whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the ricotta, melted butter, half and half, and vanilla, and whisk together.  Add the spices.  Carefully stir in the fruit cocktail, then add the nuts, raisins and cranberries.  Pour the liquid over the bread cubes, fold everything together gently, and let sit until the bread is well soaked.

Place the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into a 9x13 baking dish.  My preference is disposable aluminum, but make sure you support the bottom.  Put the baking dish into the oven until the butter is melted, but do not allow to brown.  Take the dish out of the oven and carefully tip so that the butter coats the pan.  Immediately pour the bread mixture into the hot pan, place the dish into the oven and bake for 40 minutes, stirring once halfway through the baking.  If you are using the cherry preserves, spoon them carefully over the top of the hot pudding and spread gently with the back of a spoon.  Return the pudding to the oven for the last 20 minutes of baking or until the pudding is done.  Let this cool down before eating.  I like it best at room temperature.  Store in the refrigerator, and while you can eat it cold, it's best if you nuke it a few seconds in the microwave to take off the chill.

Cooking like there's nobody watching, and eat like it's heaven on earth.