Airy Rosemary Citrus Pignole Bread Pudding

By • February 19, 2010 33 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe was inspired by fluffy chiffon cakes (fluffing the egg whites separate from their yolks), my love for making flan and creme brulee, as well by Lemon Pignole cookies. I used several varieties of citrus since I lacked Meyer lemons and flavored the pudding with honey and rosemary for a garden-like twist. And just so ya know, this is the most bowls you'll every see me dirty in the making of one dish! gabrielaskitchen

Food52 Review: We nicknamed this "restaurant" bread pudding -- not because it's difficult to make, but because if it were served to us in a restaurant (not to mention gabrielaskitchen's home) we'd be duly impressed. The herbs, vanilla, and a trio of citrus zests infuse the milk with a heady mix of complementary flavors, and honey adds a rich, musky sweetness that sugar simply cannot. The sweetness of the custard is offset by lemon juice and butter-soaked bread cubes, and whipped egg whites lighten the pudding. The resulting dessert miraculously separates into a rich, custardy base and a puffy, tender top layer studded with toasted pine nuts. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 8

  • 1 large loaf Italian or French bread, about 3 cups cubed
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp. dry rosemary pulverized
  • 1 teaspoon zest of lemon
  • 1 teaspoon zest of grapefruit
  • 1 teaspoon zest of one orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • juice of one small lemon
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Cut or tear a loaf of bread into approximately 1 inch cubes. Spread the bread, in one layer, on baking sheets. Toast for about 10 minutes, until bread is slightly crisp on the outside but still spongy on the inside.
  2. Place milk, rosemary, citrus zest and vanilla in a sauce pan on medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, then promptly remove from heat and cover. Let rest for 15 minutes. If you used fresh rosemary remove and discard the sprigs and leaves. Add honey to the milk mixture stirring until completely incorporated.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, lemon juice and melted butter.
  4. Prepare a 8 x 8 x 1 1/2 in. square pan. Lightly grease the bottom and sides with unsalted butter. Place bread into the pan.
  5. In a separate bowl, separate egg yolks and white, reserving both for use. Beat the egg yolks until lemon colored. Add to the milk mixture, blending well.
  6. In yet another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the first milk and egg mixture.
  7. Pour the final pudding-like mixture over the bread, making sure that it is evenly coated. Top with toasted pinenuts.
  8. Place the baking pan into a larger pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the outer pan to come halfway up the sides of the pan containing the bread pudding.
  9. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Serve with fresh whipped cream (1 small carton heavy cream plus 2 Tbs. sugar whipped).

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