La Provence Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is the classic finish to any dinner in Louisiana. This version, topped with brown butter rum sauce, is from chef Erick Loos at La Provence Restaurant in Lacombe, La. It's so light and custardy in texture that it may revolutionize your concept of bread pudding. If you are working with fresh bread, bake the cubes at 350 F for 5 minutes, or just until dried out.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 cups diced, stale brioche or other white bread, crusts removed

Garnish:

  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted

Method

Combine milk, cream, sugar, orange rind, vanilla and cinnamon in a pot over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat.

Whisk eggs in a bowl until uniform and whisk in about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture. Then whisk egg mixture back into cream to temper the eggs. Strain custard through a fine mesh strainer.

Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan and add diced bread in an even layer. Pour custard mixture over bread, cover with parchment paper and top with a second, similar-sized pan. Place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight to allow bread to absorb custard.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Remove pan from refrigerator and remove top pan and parchment. Bake for 55 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed in the middle. Cut into individual portions, sprinkle with toasted pecans and drizzle with brown butter rum sauce (below). Serves 6

Ingredients

BROWN BUTTER RUM SAUCE

  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons rum

Method

Combine water, butter and corn syrup in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and stir until uniform. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 1 minute. Turn heat to low and add cream, whisking until incorporated. Stir in rum and cook for 30 seconds to meld flavours. Remove from heat.

Serve hot over bread pudding and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.