Panettone bread pudding

A number of eager cooks asked for a recipe for the panettone bread pudding that I put up on Instagram last week. It’s baked with a caramelly sauce, basically just melted butter with brown sugar stirred in. The sauce, as it turned out, wasn’t as thick as I had expected but it was still delicious.

The recipe was inspired by something David Liebovitz wrote recently on his website http://www.davidliebovitz.com, and he, in turn, was inspired by a recipe in Autentico, the super new book by our mutual friend Rolando Beramendi. In the end, as with so many recipes, I took a little bit from here and a little bit from there and came up with this truly lush dish that is a splendid addition to the wintertime tea table, if you go in for that sort of thing. As I said in my original post: As far as I’m concerned, this represents the highest and best use of panettone.

So here’s what you’ll need to make a panettone bread pudding in a souffle dish that is 8 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep.

  •             Enough panettone to make about 8 cups cubed, that is, around a pound or about half a kilo of the original cake
  •             3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •             1 cup brown sugar, divided
  •             6 eggs
  •             1 teaspoon pure vanila extract
  •             Pinch of sea salt
  •             1 ½ cups whole milk
  •             1 cup heavy cream

Set the oven on 350ºF. While the oven is heating, slice the panettone, then dice the slices to make cubes that are roughly ½ inch to a side. Spread the cubes in a single layer on one or more sheet pans and transfer to the oven. Toast until the cubes are lightly golden—with a fresh panettone, this could take as much as 20 minutes, but with an older, slightly stale cake, it might be ready in 5 minutes. The point is to dry and firm the cake cubes so they’ll absorb more of the custard mixture.

Put the butter in the bottom of the souffle dish and set in the oven to melt. When the butter is liquid, swirl it all over the bottom of the souffle dish, then add ¾ cup of the sugar and mash that thoroughly into the melted butter so there are no lumps. Spread the butter/sugar mixture in a thin layer all over the bottom of the dish. Now add the toasted cubes to the dish, pressing them gently. They should fill the souffle dish right up to the top.

In a small bowl, vigorously beat the eggs with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar until thick and well combined. Add the vanilla and a pinch of salt and beat again. Then, beating continuously, slowly add in the milk and cream. Pour this custardy egg mixture all over the panettone cubes, again pressing gently so the cubes absorb the mix. Let stand for 30 minutes to 1 hour, pressing on the cubes every now and then. You’re aiming for the cubes to absorb the egg mix, but not to get so soft they start to dissolve.

When ready to bake, have the oven set on 400ºF. Set the souffle dish in a roasting pan and add boiling water to come up the sides of the souffle dish by about two inches. Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the oven. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour but start checking after 40 minutes. The pudding should rise like a souffle and turn a delicious golden-brown hue all over the top. As with a cake, when you press your index finger gently in the center it should yield and spring back. When you judge it’s done, remove to a cake rack and let cool. It will deflate but only slightly.

Serve it luke warm, or a little warmer than room temperature, spooning up the caramel sauce in the bottom to dribble over each serving. It’s terrific on its own, but maybe even better with a small dollop of plain vanilla ice cream on top.


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