I don't think it really is, but isn't this cute?
OMG DO I EVER LOVE BREAD PUDDING. It is quite possibly my very favorite dessert of all time. I grew up eating it often as a kid; in the South it's one of those basic things anybody worth a dime can make decently, like peach cobbler or sweet potato pie.
That being said, though the point of bread pudding is that it is a simple dish of leftovers tossed together, my attempts to make it as an adult have been not so great. I find that people have different interpretations of it; different techniques and as such I am never quite sure what I will get in the end. The bread pudding I grew up on was firm, not really discernably custardy; all the custard would cook into the bread, which bakes straight on the over rack with no water bath, to give you soft sweet cinnamony bready goodness. It's usually eaten warm because it's just better that way, though it's not bad at room temp either.
So I was ambivalent about today's TWD (chosen by Elizabeth at Cake or Death; check her blog for the recipe) On the one hand: yay, an excuse to make bread pudding. On the other: um, what is this tomfoolery with paper towels and boiling water? Why does the pudding have to sit for 30 minutes? Cooked apples? These recipes rarely let me down, so I went on ahead.
Surprise #1. Though the recipe is pretty straightforward, it actually takes a good while to get from peeling apples to eating dessert. Don't think you can just whip this out at teatime. You can't.
I made a 1/2 recipe, in Pyrex as suggested. I went out and bought a cinnamon raisin brioche from Local Fancypants Grocery, and then waited for ETERNITY for it to get stale and finally broke down and just left some slices laying around for a couple of days. I have learned that you really need your bread stale for it to work. There's a time consuming thing right there.
Caramelizing the sugar and cooking the apples was simple. I am still working through my fruit aversion, so I chopped the apple in chunks instead. I bought some cute local apple butter (see above) and used that.
Then on to the "custard," which again, wasn't really to me. It was just eggs, milk, and sugar, uncooked. Pour over and let sit.
Baked in the water bath. Surprise #2: using paper towels in the water bath. I guess the paper towels are supposed to keep some water, or make the cooking more gentle, or...I have NO idea why they are there. I was afraid they'd catch fire!
please don't burn down my apartment, please o please
They didn't. I had to cook my pudding for an hour and a half, even though it was a half recipe, and it was still awfully jiggly. I let it cool and then I cut it...
curses! the Curds of Death appear.
Oh NO. no no no. Clumps mean something didn't work right. The pudding tastes OK, but it kind of tastes like something is missing, and I tried to add as much as I can with cinnamon sugar lining the pan and cooking the apples, and cinnamon bread, but I am a little disappointed so far. It's very soft and custardy; no structure at all. perhaps I should have used even more bread. It's not bad, but I've had better. Oh well. We can't love 'em all, can we? I liked the idea; I'll just have to fiddle with the execution to get it to work for me.