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Kitchen Mailbox: Welcome the new year with an old standby ~ bread pudding

Thursday, December 28, 2000

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Celebrate the new century with a centuries-old recipe -- bread pudding. A couple of hundred years ago, bread puddings were served by some creative hostesses with flamboyant meringues and sauces. But for the most part, this comfort food was served in its simplest form. For example, here's an excerpt from a mid-Victorian cookbook, "Kettner's Book of the

 
   
Cooking term
of the week

Simmer

To cook in a liquid just below the boiling point. Bubbles will form slowly and collapse just below the surface.

 
 

"Bread pudding: When one is in the humor to eat bread pudding one wants it very simple -- therefore the simplest receipt [recipe] is the best, and the less we say of currants and candied citron the better. The rule is to pour upon fine milk and butter. Say there are six ounces of bread, on this put two ounces of fresh butter, and then pour boiling hot 2 cups of the creamiest milk to be obtained. Cover this over, and let it stand until the bread is well soaked -- which will take about half an hour. Then mix in three ounces of sugar, the yolks of five eggs, the whites of three, and a little nutmeg. Pour it into a dish and bake it for half an hour." (Source: "The Old World Kitchen," by Elisabeth Luard).

As you might have guessed, today's recipe is bread pudding; specifically, Commander's Bread Pudding. Commander's Bread Pudding is actually a souffle made with a basic bread pudding. This dish is both elegant and delicious. What's really great about this recipe is that there's enough bread

Daisy Aldridge of Jasper, Ala., requested a recipe for Commander's Palace bread pudding. Here are two recipes.

Bread Pudding Souffle with Whiskey Sauce was sent in by Anna Trischau of Plum.

Bread Pudding Souffle with Whiskey Sauce

5 eggs
1 pint whipping cream
1 cup sugar
1/4 pound butter
Dash cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla
12 slices fresh or day-old French bread, cut in 1-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine eggs, cream, sugar, butter, cinnamon, vanilla and raisins, mixing well. Pour mixture into a 9-inch square pan 1 3/4 inch deep. Arrange the sliced bread flat in the egg mixture and let stand for five minutes to soak up some of the liquid, then turn bread over and let stand for 10 minutes longer. Push bread down so that most of the bread is covered by the custard mixture. Do not break the bread. Set pan in a large pan filled with water to 1/2 inch from top. Cover with foil. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, uncovering pudding for the last 10 minutes to brown the top. When done, the custard should still be soft, not firm.

Souffle: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Reserve 2 1/2 cups from the preceding recipe for souffle.

6 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 egg whites
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Put egg yolks and sugar into top of a double boiler. Whisk over simmering water until mixture is frothy and shiny. Whip yolk mixture into the reserved bread pudding. Beat egg whites until frothy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating constantly until the mixture stands in stiff peaks. Gently fold egg whites into bread pudding mixture. Butter and lightly sugar a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish. Turn souffle mixture into dish, filling it 3/4 full. Wipe lip of dish clean and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. While souffle is baking, make the whiskey sauce.

Whiskey sauce:
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups water
Dash cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon bourbon

In saucepan, combine 2 cups of the water, sugar, cinnamon and butter. Stir in the cornstarch mixed with the remaining 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring until sauce is clear. Remove from heat and stir in whiskey.

Serve souffle with sauce immediately.

Sally Taylor of West Newton found this recipe in the "Great Chefs of New Orleans Collection" cookbook.

Bread Pudding Souffle

For the bread pudding:
7 ounces (3/4 of a 36-inch loaf) stale French bread, cut into cubes
3 egg yolks
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup softened butter
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup raisins

Toast bread cubes in 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Place in an ungreased 13-by-9-inch pan. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and egg yolks on medium speed until frothy. Add sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Blend well. Add softened butter and blend, then mix in the milk. Sprinkle the raisins over bread cubes and pour the milk mixture over all. Allow the bread to become thoroughly soaked. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Pudding should rise to 2 to 3 times original height, but once it's removed from the oven its size will decrease, ending up slightly higher then the uncooked pudding. Cool slightly.

For the souffle:
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups bread pudding
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Put egg yolks and granulated sugar in top of a double boiler over very low heat. Whisk the mixture until frothy and shiny. In a large mixing bowl, whip egg-and-sugar mixture into the bread pudding until smooth. Beat egg whites until frothy, add confectioners' sugar and beat until egg whites form stiff peaks. Gently fold egg whites into bread pudding mixture. Butter and lightly sugar a 1 1/2-quart souffle dish. Fill dish only 3/4 full to allow for rising. Wipe clean the lip of souffle dish and bake in a preheated 375-degree oven 35 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately with whiskey sauce.

Requests

Helen Danekik of Carrick writes: "I'm looking for a cookie recipe I had over 30 years ago -- I hope someone has the recipe. This was a chocolate cookie using a bag of chocolate chips. Half of the bag was used for the dough, the other half for the icing. The cookies were soft and quite simple to make and very delicious. I've tried Nestle Co., Hershey Co. and Land O' Lakes to see if they had this recipe -- they did not. Also, I'm looking for a potato soup recipe that was served at the Penn Alps Restaurant in Grantsville, N.D."


If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence.



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