Spring is hesitating to join us this weekend. Cloudy and drizzly here on the Rhode Island shoreline, not a good beach day. But there are some compensations - we can put off weeding the garden and spreading the mulch that’s waiting outside on the driveway.
And, instead, we’ll create some comfort inside – a warm bread pudding made from a tender brioche, and filled with raisins and apples that have been soaked in a simple syrup enhanced with rum. I’ve discovered an excellent, too-good-to-be-true-but-it’s-for-real site for bread pudding recipes – it’s from the California Raisin board – http://www.calraisins.org/recipes/category.cfm?id=53 . I’m in bread pudding heaven just looking at their recipes, which include such goodies as applesauce bread pudding, California raisin bread pudding with caramel sauce and bananas foster, and a lemon raisin bread soufflé, to name just a few.
The California Raisin folks describe this brioche treat as a “light and saucy rum-flavored pudding,” and they suggest serving this pudding with a raspberry sauce. I don’t have the exact size pan they call for in the recipe, so will use perhaps an 8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. So here we go off to the market to get some eggs, egg bread, and raspberries. Cloudy days aren’t so bad after all.
Warm Brioche Bread Pudding with California Raisins, Apples and a Berry Sauce
Rum Simple Syrup:
1/4 cup rum
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup California raisins
1 cup apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 quart milk
1 cup sugar
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 loaf brioche or light egg bread (14 oz. to 1-1/2 lbs.), sliced lengthwise 1/4-inch thick
Melted butter for brushing pan
1/4 cup pure crystal cane sugar, clear not colored
1 pint raspberries
1/4 cup rum simple syrup
Sweetened whipped cream for garnish
Rum Simple Syrup: In small saucepan, bring rum, water and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling 1 minute. Cool completely. Mix raisins and apple with 1/2 cup simple syrup. Set aside. Reserve 1/4 cup simple syrup for berry sauce.
Custard: Whisk all ingredients until mixture is fully combined.
To Assemble: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Brush 6x8x2-inch baking pan with melted butter. Line bottom of pan with one layer bread. Place 1/3 of raisins and apples on bread; pour 1/3 of custard over all. Repeat 2 more times and top with final layer of bread. There should be 4 layers of bread and 3 layers of raisin-apple and custard mixtures. Sprinkle top with crystal sugar.
Place baking pan inside a larger baking pan. Fill larger pan with hot water until it comes halfway up sides of smaller pan, or just until it seems like smaller pan is floating. Bring water to a boil on top of stove. Cover pudding with foil (if baking pan doesn’t have secure-fitted top) and place in oven; bake at 325 degrees F. about 40 minutes or until a shake of the pan produces a firm jiggle. Bake another 15 minutes, uncovered, until golden brown.
Berry Sauce: Meanwhile, puree raspberries and reserved syrup in food processor to a smooth, sauce consistency; refrigerate until ready to use.
To Serve: Cut pudding into 8 squares. Divide and ladle sauce onto each of 8 individual plates. Arrange a piece of pudding on top of sauce and top with whipped cream.
Visit www.loveyourraisins.com/recipes/ for more raisin recipes.