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Sourdough Bread Pudding with Currants

5 cups half and half
1 Tbs plus 1 tsp minced orange peel
1 1/2 tsps aniseed
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar

1 10 ounce sourdough baguette (regular loaf will do) crust trimmed, cut into 3/4 inch cubes 3 Tbs dried currant (use golden or regular raisins if you can't find currants)

Mix half and half, 1 Tbs orange peel and aniseed in heavy large saucepan. Add vanilla. Bring to simmer. Remove from heat. Cover; let stand 30 minutes.

Whisk eggs and yolks in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in warm half and half mixture. Strain custard into bowl. Add sugar and remaining 1 tsp orange peel to custard. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Place bread cubes in 8x8x2 glass baking dish. Sprinkle currants or raisins over bread. Pour custard over bread. Cover with plastic. Refrigerate pudding until bread absorbs some of the custard, ocassionally pressing on bread, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Remove plastic from pudding. Bake until custard is set and bread starts to brown, about 1 hour. Let stand at least 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Yield: 6 Servings

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