One of the best parts about buying a loaf of bread is knowing that whatever doesn’t make the cut for your sandwich or piece of toast has the potential to end up as bread pudding.
Bread pudding has never been the glamorous girl at the dance, but she’s got a heart of gold and can break it down with some funky moves. Perhaps criminally underrated, bread pudding really is an amazing vehicle for flavor.
This holiday season, I decided to make savory bread pudding in lieu of stuffing a bird. This decision was based on economical and food safety reasons; I happened to have stale bread which was moments from molding and, and am also a little wary of stuffing a bready sponge into the cavity of a bacteria-ridden carcass. (Edit: I have heard stuffing successfully crafted this way is unparalleled–maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to face it…)
Maybe you’ve heard of bay leaf ice cream, if you are an adventurous eater. If you have, bay flavored bread pudding might not be too far of a leap. Stick with me. Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb by sticking to tradition. Sometimes we must take bold leaps if we are to forge ahead. Right?
It’s delightfully simple: chop everything and put it in a bowl, make your custard, and let it soak for at least 15 minutes.
Throw it all in a pan and bake.
Savory Bay Bread Pudding
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 5 whole peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves dried
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 5 cups bread, chopped into 1" chunks
- 2 Tbs butter, plus more for pan
- 1 leek, washed and cut into 1/4" chunks
- Butter a 9×5" bread pan and set aside. Place milk, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a saucepan and heat over medium. When the mixture is just beginning to boil, turn off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- While the milk mixture is cooling, cut or rip bread into one inch chunks and place in a large mixing bowl. Cut leeks and add to the bowl.
- When the milk is at room temp, whisk in the beaten eggs. Pour this mixture over the bread chunks and let sit 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour soaked bread chunks into the baking pan. Dot the surface of the bread mixture with small dabs of butter, and bake in the oven 20-30 minutes, until toasty and golden on top. Serve as a Thanksgiving side or with a dollop of creme fraiche.