Happy Holiday Season, my friends!
We have made it past Thanksgiving, so I can officially be as annoying as possible with my over-the-top Christmas spirit! Yay! Woo! Candy Canes! Gingerbread!
As I write up this blog post, I may or may not be snuggled up on the couch with Mr. Raleigh, wearing a shirt covered in gingerbread men, listening to some Christmas tunes while drinking coffee with a candy cane swirling around in my big mug…
If you don’t recall from last holiday season, this time of year just speaks to me—it’s truly the time when everyone’s love just comes out, no questions asked, and that makes me even more warm and fuzzy than usual! And if you’re at my house for Christmas, it’s going to be gingerbread house making, Bad Santa watching, spiked eggnog and Cognac drinking, and I-spy Christmas ornament playing. Things get pretty wild up there.
ANYWAYS! Let me stop rambling about the upcoming excitement in Maine, but instead about this even bigger thrill of the recipe below! Bacon. Apples. Spices. Bread. Crumb Topping.
I think I should have had you at bacon, but had to add in the crumb topping incase you’re nuts and your mouth doesn’t water at the thought of bacon.
Alright, so I have a small confession…the idea of bread pudding hasn’t always appealed to me. I see it on a brunch menu, a dessert menu, I’m kind of like well…pancakes, waffles, chocolate cake…they’re all higher up to me. But then after the past few weeks at work of making savory bread pudding almost everyday, I decided to put aside all of my past feelings and give it another shot. See, at work, we use day old savory pastries—croissants, gougeres, ham puffs—and that’s when I realized it can’t be that bad if there’s flaky, buttery pastry in it.
What bread is in my sweet variation? Cinnamon bread and challah, thank you very much. Luckily, homemade OR store bought is just fine, and day old is even better. And then I just added almost every favorite ingredient of mine: bacon for some savory-salty action, apples for a tart crunch, cinnamon and nutmeg—I mean, it’s Christmas, brown sugar for that wonderful sweetness, and a buttery, big crumb topping for even more little flavor bursts.
After making my own bread pudding and seeing how fun it is to experiment with flavor combinations, there’s absolutely no reason why this incredible custard shouldn’t move up in your ranking, too! One of the best parts? You can make this and let it sit overnight in the fridge, and then bake it fresh in the morning—hello simple brunch!
Oh, and I heard Christmas is on a Sunday this year, the day of brunching…so here is one less thing you need to plan!
Brown Sugar—1 oz, or 2 TBL
Flour—0.75 oz, or 2 TBL
Butter, cold+cubed—1.5 oz, or 3 TBL
In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients.
Either using a fork, a pastry cutter, or, my favorite, your hands (!!), work the butter into the dry ingredients.
You want to have large and small crumbs of the topping, this will give you little buttery, spicy pockets once the bread pudding is baked!
When you are ready to bake your bread pudding, sprinkle this all over the top before putting into the oven.
Bacon, cooked—8-10 pieces
Bread—10 oz, or 4 C (packed!)
Milk—8 oz, or 1 C
Brown Sugar—2.5 oz, or 1/3 C
In a large bowl, combine the bacon, diced apple, and bread.
*For bread, using day old is great, really soaks up the liquid. You may also use whatever type you’d like—but a sweet challah or cinnamon raison are the perfect flavor combinations!*
In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon.
Pour your liquid mixture over the bread and mix well.
Once thoroughly mixed, pour all into a baking dish—I used a pie dish, makes it look pretty!
Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in the refrigerator to soak for at least 2 hours to overnight!
When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350˚F.
Sprinkle the crumb topping (recipe below) over the bread pudding.
Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until you can see that the custard has set and there are no more runny eggs.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and enjoy!