When life gives you lemons …
June 16, 2008
Almost a month ago, I embarked on a culinary journey that would make most wise bakers give pause. A crusty loaf of French sourdough seems simple enough, right? It calls for no yeast – how hard could it be? As jealously insecure as a fourth wife whose husband just hired a 20 year old former Playmate as his new secretary, a sourdough starter is demanding, insisting you look at it rise and carefully watch for it to fall. You must then refresh the dough, kneading in new flour to the sticky mess, only to have to repeat the ritual two days later. This process lasts longer than most Hollywood marriages and by the time you graduate on to the actual bread making, you already intimately aquainted its tempermental nature.
Which is exactly why I knew deep down that this was not going to work out. I should have gone with my instinct and drawn up the pre-nup papers since I knew I wasn’t ever going to make my planned grilled paninis with it. But just like all those celebrities who still tie the knot even though we all know how it’s going to end, I just closed my eyes and plunged in.
I’ll spare you the gory details of how horribly my sourdough bread turned out, but in the end I was stuck with a huge loaf of partially risen, dense as brick bread. Throwing out still edible bread just went against everything I was taught (not to mention the three weeks I already invested in it). What to do…
Three weeks of my life I’ll never get back.
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 C. sugar
4 C. milk
1 C. heavy cream
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 (1 pound) loaf bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 10 C.)
1/2 C. golden raisins
1/4 C. almond slivers
Preheat oven to 300 º F.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together. Add milk, heavy cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Whisk until smooth. Arrange bread cubes in a 9 x 13 x 2 baking dish and top with golden raisins and almond slivers. Cover with the milk mixture, allowing the bread to become completely saturated.
Bake for one hour, until lightly brown.
Bread pudding happens to be a favorite of mine (anything remotely custard-like in it makes me weak in the knees), the yardstick by which I measure the quality of a diner (dessert is often included with dinner, and bread pudding is almost always an option). I’ve tasted many bread puddings in this state known for its diners, and this bread pudding recipe is a keeper.
I guess the sourdough fiasco didn’t end too badly.