Morning Bread Pudding
This is the perfect recipe for any brunch. All the work for this dish (what little there is) is done the night before, and then you simply pop the dish in the oven the next morning. The bread pudding consistently cooks perfectly, and is always a crowd pleaser. Perfectly moist, and wonderful flavor that pairs well with assorted fruits or with a strong cup of coffee.
- First, choose your baking vessel. (We used a 2.5 quart oval CorningWare dish.)
- We cooked the caramel in a heavy cast iron (non-stick) pan.
- Place 3/4 cup sugar, butter and sea salt and heat over medium heat. The butter will melt and, after 7 to 10 minutes, the sugar will dissolve and begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir with a spatula so that it browns evenly. You will find that the butter separates from the melting sugar and this is just fine. Do your best to keep them stirred together but know that it will all work out in the end even if it’s split.
- Your caramel is done when it reaches a copper color. Pour it over the base of your baking vessel and try to tip it 1-inch up the sides of the dish.
- Place dish in refrigerator and chill until caramel is cold and solid, about 30 minutes. Once chilled, arrange the bread slices. Place the heel of the bread in the center and do what you can to fan the slices around it, overlapping each slightly and knowing with complete confidence that even if your dish doesn’t resemble a blooming rose, nobody will care at all.
- In a large bowl whisk together eggs, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 mascarpone cheese (save rest for serving), until very smooth. Add milk and almond extract. Pour this over the bread, making sure to saturate all of it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight. If you bread seems too high in the vessel to get a good soak, you can weight it with a plate in the fridge.
- In the morning, heat oven to 375°F. Take dish from fridge, remove plastic, and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until moist but not wet in center. Remove from oven and run a knife around edge of dish, loosening bread from sides. Place a serving plate over top of dish (bottom side up), and, using potholders, hold pudding over sink and flip pudding onto it. Lift baking dish off plate; scrape any extra caramel from pie dish over pudding. Serve, cutting it into wedges at the table and spooning a healthy dollop of mascarpone onto each plate.