Have you ever been in a restaurant and tasted something so incredibly good that you just couldn’t leave without finding out how it was made? Sometimes I’m only curious about the cooking technique or about the ingredients used — but there was one occasion when I was desperate to know everything.
Oddly enough, this incident occurred during breakfast at a small, out-of-the-way B & B in northern California. And it’s this French Toast Bread Pudding that made it one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had.
Fortunately for me, the chef was happy to share the cooking process, and she gave me a rough list of ingredients. I’m sure my version is not quite the same, but it definitely has the same qualities that made hers so excellent.
I’ve been making this recipe for almost 20 years. I now have a son with Celiac Disease, so I created a gluten-free version that I’m very happy with. I used Canyon Bakehouse’s Seven Grain & Cinnamon Raisin gluten-free breads, and the result was just as delicious! This is one dish that nobody should be left out of!
- 1 cup grape seed or vegetable oil
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 to 3 large loaves of your favorite bread, sliced
- 9 whole eggs
- 1-1/2 cups low-fat milk
- 1-1/2 cups half & half
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup dried currants
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Fresh berries for garnish
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a large saucepan, gently whisk the eggs with the milk, half & half, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and currants. Place the pan over medium-low heat and let it warm only enough to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Cut the crusts off of the bread slices. (As little as possible -- and if it's a very soft crust, there's no need to do this.)
- Add the oil and butter to a large sauté pan, and over low heat, let the butter melt. Stir to blend.
- Dredge each slice of bread into the oil-butter mixture, coating one side only, and placing them on a baking sheet as you go.
- Use the remaining oil-butter mixture to grease the sides and bottom of a 9 X at least 3-inch high, round cake pan. (Make sure it's greased very well so it's easy to remove the bread pudding.)
- Line the bottom of the pan with one layer of the bread, greased side down. When necessary, trim the bread to better fit the curves of the pan, using smaller pieces to fit in any open areas. (You don't want to see the bottom of the pan at all.)
- Then pour just enough of the egg mixture to cover the layer of bread. Bake just this portion n the preheated 400 degree F oven, until the egg mixture appears solid, about 10 minutes.
- Now, gently dredge each remaining bread slices into the egg mixture and add them to the cake pan, greased side down, filling all possible crevices, and drizzling the egg mixture on top of each layer. (Be sure to spoon some of the currants over each layer as well.)
- Once you’ve filled the pan almost to the top (leave an inch or so), carefully pour in any of the remaining egg mixture that the pan will hold. It's a good idea to pour in a bit, let it sink in, then a bit more, and so on. You should see the liquid rise to the top of all of the bread layers.
- Place the cake pan on a foil covered baking sheet, as it will likely overflow.
- Bake for about 1-1/2 hours. It will rise out of the pan (like a soufflé), and will be uneven. Check on it after about 45 minutes, and periodically there after. It's done when it no longer jiggles and is golden brown. If the top seems like it’s getting too dark before it's done, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time.
- Once you’ve removed the pudding form the oven, let it rest for about 15 minutes. Then, go around the sides of it with a small knife, to make sure it isn't stuck. Invert it onto a large platter.
- Top with berries, and slice it like you would a cake.
For a non gluten-free version I really like using an enriched bread like Brioche or Challah -- and I often add cinnamon raisin rolls.
Samples of gluten-free Canyon Bakehouse breads were sent to me for recipe testing. I was not compensated for this post, and all opinions are my own.