Cherry Vanilla Ciabatta Bread Pudding

by Heather on August 24, 2011

Fact:  there is absolutely no better smell than bread pudding baking.  Unless you count eating it as a smell.  Then that’s the best.

I have to say, I love ciabatta bread.  The problem with it for me is that sometimes it can be TOO crusty.  It’s so light and airy on the inside but that super crunchy crispy crusty crust can be a bit hard to handle, especially when you come away with the roof of your mouth torn up.

 

Not that I have done that.  But I can imagine.

 

OK fine, I’ve done that too many times to count.  If it just didn’t taste so darn good!

The other night we were enjoying some steak (recipe to come!) sliced over ciabatta slices and I was left wondering what to do with the rest of the bread.  I knew that if we waited til the next day it would be completely inedible due to the crustiness.  But it was amazing and there’s no way we weren’t going to eat it.  And then I thought of bread pudding.  And then I looked up and saw whiskey on top of the fridge.  And then I realized we had dried cherries in the pantry, eggs and milk in the fridge, and an oven – a stinkin’ oven!!! – all of which were begging me to make bread pudding.

 

So I obliged.

P.S. Let me tell you a little story.  Growing up my parents were very aware of turning off all appliances, fans, etc in the house.  It was a good habit that I picked up.  Every time we leave the house now I ask Nate if we turned off the coffee maker, unplugged the blender, turned off the lights, turned off the oven.  Even if we didn’t use those things I still ask him anyway!  The night we went to go see our friends with the beautiful new baby girl we came home and my first thought was, “WOW it’s hot in here!”  We don’t leave our A/C on during the day so it’s normally hot, but this was abnormally warm.  Something was up.

 

Sigh.

 

Guess who forgot to turn off the broiler after making toast that morning?  And left it on for 12 hours that day?  And sobbed like a maniac when they realized what they’d done?

 

I’ll give you one hint:  it wasn’t Nate.

Oh ovens.  I haven’t used the broiler in the morning ever since!  Although the upside is that our oven was ridiculously clean once said broiler was turned off.  Oh, and the other upside is that it didn’t, you know, catch our house on fire.  It’s the little things.

CHERRY VANILLA CIABATTA BREAD PUDDING

  • 4 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 cups milk (I would say a higher fat milk is best although I used nonfat and it worked fine)
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup whiskey (bourbon or rum would work well too)
  • 8 cups of ciabatta bread, cubed into 1″ squares

Preheat oven to 325.  In a small bowl pour the whiskey over the cherries and let sit while preparing the other ingredients.  In a mixer, bowl or blender combine the eggs and sugar.  Beat until fully incorporated.  Add the butter and the milk and mix well.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon and salt and mix until everything is well combined.  Spray a 9×13 dish (or equivalent) with nonstick spray.  Submerge the bread cubes in the custard mixture and then pour in the cherries, whiskey and all, in as well.  Slowly fold the cherries in and let everything sit for about 15 minutes.  Pour into the prepared pan, sprinkle generously with another 2-3 Tbsp of sugar and bake at 325 for 45-55 minutes until the middle jiggles only slightly and the sides and top are puffed and brown.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

I’m telling you, no better smell.  Unless you count the smell of your house NOT burning to the ground.  That one’s pretty nice too!

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