Monday, November 24, 2008

Cinnamon raisin bread pudding with hot cider sauce is a warmer-upper

We stopped at the library this afternoon, which was a warm, cozy spot to escape from our unseasonably cold weather here on the New England coast. And what jumped out at us as we stepped in the door was a cookbook titled, “Unbelievable Microwave Desserts” by Adrienne Welch and Mary Goodbody. With the subtitle, “More than 135 irresistible recipes for puddings, pies, cakes, and more,” this book was an invitation to check out especially the “and more.”

And, sure enough, on page 49 was a recipe for bread pudding. It had the homey touch of raisins and cinnamon with an intriguing hint (well, maybe more than a hint) of rum. Topping this pudding was a hot cider sauce – now who could resist this comforting dish on a cold, raw day?

Also, with the business of the holidays coming up, this recipe is as fast and easy as you’re going to get for a bread pudding – let the microwave do the cooking for you. The authors suggest in a kitchen note that to save time, prepare the custard mixture ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. Then cut the bread cubes and store them in a plastic bag or airtight container until you are ready to prepare the pudding.


Preparation time: About 20 minutes
Microwave time: 13 to 18 minutes plus 10 minutes standing

Bread pudding:
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons dark rum (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 slices cinnamon-raisin bread, crusts removed
2 cups hot tap water

Cider Sauce:
1 cup fresh apple cider
2 tablespoons dark raisins
4 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh lemon juice to taste

To make bread pudding: Combine eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and salt in 2-1/2-quart bowl. Whisk vigorously until frothy. Stir in milk, cream, rum, and vanilla extract. Use rubber spatula to fold in bread cubes. Mix well.
Spoon mixture into four 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Arrange ramekins in circle in 10-inch microwave-safe glass pie plate. Carefully pour hot tap water into pie plate. The water should come halfway up sides of ramekins.
Microwave on MEDIUM (50 percent) power for 10 to 13 minutes, rotating puddings a half turn after 5 minutes. If your microwave has no turntable, also rotate pie plate after 5 minutes. Test puddings for doneness after 10 minutes by inserting toothpick into each one; it should come out clean.
Let puddings stand in hot water bath on flat heatproof surface for 10 minutes while you prepare sauce.
To prepare cider sauce: Combine cider, raisins, and sugar in 2-cup microwave-safe glass measuring cup.
Put cornstarch in a small cup. Slowly stir in 1 tablespoon cider until smooth. Pour mixture into measuring cup holding the cider, and stir until blended.
Cover measuring cup with waxed paper. Microwave on HIGH (100 percent) power for 2 to 4 minutes, whisking every 60 seconds, until sauce is translucent and comes to a rapid boil. Do not let sauce boil for more than 30 seconds, or it will become watery.
Stir in rum, if desired, and vanilla extract. Add lemon juice to taste.
Run the tip of small knife around edge of a warm pudding. Invert pudding into palm of your hand and carefully place it right side up in center of a dessert plate. Spoon some cider sauce around it. Unmold and pour sauce on remaining puddings in the same way. Serves 4.
(Recipe from Unbelievable Microwave Desserts by Adrienne Welch and Mary Goodbody, © 1992, Simon & Schuster)

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