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3 Simple bread pudding recipes

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Delicious bread pudding

When 13th-century English cooks faced the conundrum of salvaging stale bread, they created the delicious dessert known as "poor man's pudding." Today, sweet and savory bread pudding is served at the trendiest of eating establishments and at the most stylish of dinner parties. Here are three chefs' mouthwatering and simple bread pudding recipes.

Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce

Serves 8

World-renowned chef and cookbook author Bruce Aidells contributed this sweet bread pudding recipe. He originally created it for a New Orleans Super Bowl party, but its celebratory nature -- a la the bourbon -- makes it a fine dessert to serve on any occasion.

Ingredients:

Pudding:
3/4 loaf dry sliced bread, whole wheat or white, torn into pieces
3 cups brown sugar
3 cups half-and-half
1 cup whipping cream
6 eggs, beaten
1–1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter

Bourbon sauce:
3 cups brown sugar
Juice of 2 fresh oranges
1 cup bourbon

Directions:

Pudding
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, mix all pudding ingredients until well blended. Butter eight 3-inch ramekins or ovenproof coffee cups and fill each one 3/4 full. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan and add enough water to come 2 inches up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool briefly. Turn the puddings out of their ramekins onto service plates, and pour the bourbon sauce over pudding. Both pudding and sauce should be served hot; reheat if necessary.

Bourbon Sauce
In a medium saucepan, mix brown sugar and orange juice. Slowly simmer for 15 minutes until a syrup forms, then carefully add bourbon. (Caution: It may flame.) Let cook for 3 to 4 more minutes; spoon over cooked bread pudding and serve hot.

Bread Pudding Florentine

Serves 10

If you have a large group clamoring for a savory but slimmed-down version of bread pudding, here it is. Chef Holly Clegg, author of the Trim & Terrific cookbook series, offers this easy and elegant bread pudding made on the light side. Save time by combining all ingredients the night before and popping it into the oven an hour before serving. (The "Florentine" in the name refers to the spinach in the recipe -- a staple of Florence, Italy.)

Ingredients:
5 eggs
4 egg whites
3 cups skim milk
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (16-ounce) loaf day-old French bread, cut into 16 slices, divided
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
2 (10-ounce) boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1–1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese, divided

Directions:
Coat a 13x9x2-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Then, in a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and egg whites with milk, mustard, salt, and pepper; set aside. Place half the bread slices in prepared pan. In skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté mushrooms, garlic and onion until tender. Add spinach and flour, stirring to mix well. Season to taste. Spread the mixture over the bread layer. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the Swiss cheese. Top with remaining bread. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup of the Swiss cheese. Pour egg mixture over the casserole, and refrigerate two hours or overnight. Bake the casserole at 350 F for 40 to 50 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve immediately.

Buttered Bread Pudding

Serves 6

For those occasions when you have a hankering for good old-fashioned comfort food, try out this sweet and simple bread pudding recipe from Annie Bell's cookbook, Gorgeous Desserts. Panettone (an Italian egg bread made with raisins and candied fruit) is readily available at the holidays and makes for a richer bread pudding.

Ingredients:
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1–3/4 cups heavy cream
1–3/4 cups milk
Unsalted butter, softened for spreading
10 to 12 1/2-inch slices panettone or white bread, cut into wedges
1 vanilla bean
1/3 cup apricot jam

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl, then whisk in the cream and milk. Butter the panettone or bread and arrange in overlapping slices to cover the bottom of a 14-inch (2-1/2 quart) baking dish (use one that will fit into a roasting
pan to make a water bath). Pour the custard over and around the bread. Tuck the vanilla bean under the custard in the center.

To make the water bath, place the baking dish in a roasting pan with cold water that comes 2/3 of the way up the side of the baking dish. Bake for 1 hour until the custard is puffy and the bread golden. Brush the surface of the bread with the apricot jam. Serve immediately.

More delicious dessert recipes:

Nutella recipes: A marriage of chocolate and hazelnuts
Chocolate for breakfast: Chocolate recipes
Quick breads for quick satisfaction

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