It’s nearly Thanksgiving – for me, it’s a herald of the true start of the holidays and my gauntlet of holiday baking (pancreas be damned). I have, for the sake of my family, held off on subjecting them to holiday music – and Thanksgiving is the end of my self-denial.
I always seem to date those who have a serious aversion to winter holidays. My last serious relationship (and still best friend) has PTSD-style symptoms at the mere mention of eggnog and cinnamon-scented pine cones. He’ll cower into his seat, fists clenched tightly at his side.
This year, I intend to win him over. Baked goods and plenty of liquor seems to be the way to do it. Like bread pudding. This bread pudding.
Bread pudding is deliciously rustic – and so often failed by an overly sugary treatment and weak, soppy bread.
Do yourself a favor and bake up the remarkably easy bread (a variation on Jim Lahey’s famous no-knead bread) but if quickness and ease are your bywords, any firm, hard-crusted bakery bread will do just fine.
jameson soaked bread pudding
for the bread
3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups tepid water
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
for the pudding
2 cups milk
1/2 cup Jameson (or any Irish whiskey)
2 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. butter, melted
2 cups sugar
A handful of dried raisins (or cherries).
A handful of crushed pecans.
For the bread, I’ve adapted Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread from Sullivan Street Bakery. Combine all ingredients, except the water, for the bread together. Mix evenly. Slowly add the water while mixing until dough is sticky and shaggy, adding more flour or water as necessary. Place in a greased bowl and leave, covered with plastic wrap, for 12-18 hours. Dough should have doubled in size and formed bubbles. Punch dough down and shape, allow to rise for 1 hour, covered, until doubled in size. During this time, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place a greased 6-8 quart dutch oven (or any heavy, covered pot) in the oven while it heats. Once oven has reached temperature, turn dough into heated pot and allow to bake for 40 minutes covered and 10 minutes uncovered, until crust is crackled and golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool.
Cut bread into 1 inch cubes. Arrange these somewhat evenly over the base of your baking dish. (I used a 9 inch round). Whisk eggs, sugar, melted butter, vanilla, whiskey, and milk together until sugar is dissolved. Pour most of it evenly over bread cubes, reserve about 1/4 cup. Sprinkle crushed pecans and raisins over top.
Bake at 350 degrees, covered in foil, for about 40 minutes. Before serving, drizzle with reserved sauce.