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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bread Custard with Raisins and Dried Cranberries

Don't waste food. That's what my grandmother always told me. I took that simple idea to heart.

When we go out to eat, I bring home what we don't eat. Especially the bread. Why let good bread get thrown away? And if you're in the grocery store, and you see a loaf of marked-down white bread, buy it and you'll be able to make a dessert that's as easy-to-make as it is elegant looking and delicious.

Bread Custard with Raisins and Dried Cranberries

Unlike traditional bread puddings, this dessert is designed to come out of the pan.

Yield 4-6 servings

Time 30 minutes preparation, 60 minutes baking

Ingredients

2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
6 slices white bread
1 tablespoon dark raisins
1 tablespoon golden raisins
1 tablespoon dried cranberries
1 tablespoon whole raw almonds, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sweet butter, melted

Method

Soak the raisins and cranberries in the cream for an hour or overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 350. Toast the bread in the oven for 4-5 minutes on each side until lightly toasted. Set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon of sugar in a nonstick skillet over a low flame. Add the chopped almonds. Stir frequently until sugar begins to melt. After the almonds have been coated with the melted sugar, remove from the pan and chop on a cutting board.

Make the custard-base by using a fork to beat together the eggs and sugar. Add the cream with the raisins and dried cranberries. Stir well.

Put water into a small bowl. Taking 2-3 slices of toasted bread at a time, dip the bread in the water for a few seconds. Carefully squeeze out the water and tear the bread into pieces and drop into the custard. Mix well.

Instead of using a standard baking pan, use a 9" round take-out container. Why? Because the thin, aluminum-sided take-out container is flexible and that makes removing the bread custard easy.

Paint the inside of the take-out container with melted butter. Pour in the custard-bread mixture. Put into a water bath (1" of water in a pan larger than the take-out container).

Bake for 30 minutes, remove from the oven. Sprinkle the caramelized chopped almonds on top of the custard. Loosely lay a piece of aluminum foil over the custard to prevent the top from burning before the custard is set

Return to the oven for another 15 - 30 minutes. The custard is done when you touch the top and it only slightly jiggles (shouldn't be "wet"). Then remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.

When cooled, the custard will shrink slightly allowing for easy removal from the pan. Place one hand on top, flip it over, and carefully remove the cake from the pan. Place a plate on the bottom and flip it over.

Serve warm dusted with powdered sugar or topped with whipped cream or ice cream.