After Thanksgiving I like to make a big pot of Turkey Gumbo. This year we decided to have some friends over the Saturday after Thanksgiving. To go with the Louisiana theme I made gumbo, red beans and rice, and corn bread. For dessert I went with bread pudding. I wanted to put a wintery twist on it so immediately thought of gingerbread. I didn't know how well gingerbread would hold up in the custard, so went with spiced custard and challah bread. I started with the Cook's Illustrated Classic Bread Pudding and did some tinkering. I was happy with the outcome, and a 10 by 15 pan was devoured by the end of the night. It can be served with a rum sauce, left-over cranberry sauce, fruit compote and whipped cream, or ice cream depending on your personal preference. (I served it with home-made cranberry sauce left over from thanksgiving and vanilla ice cream.) —hardlikearmour
9 by 13-inch pan
3/4-inch cubes challah bread
unsalted butter, divided
large egg yolks
plus 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Mix 3 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ginger in a small bowl and set aside.
Spread bread cubes on 2 rimmed baking sheets, and allow to dry out for 24 hours. Alternately, bake for about 15 minutes. Toss the bread cubes and switch tray positions halfway through. The bread cubes should be dry by not toasted. Cool bread cubes for 10 to 15 minutes, and set aside 3 cups of bread cubes.
While the bread cubes are drying and cooling make your custard. Warm the half-and-half in a microwave safe measuring cup or bowl to about 100-110 degrees, then mix in 2 tablespoons melted butter, coffee, and rum. In a large mixing bowl whisk your egg yolks, remaining sugar, molasses, salt, remaining ginger, and the rest of the spices together. Once combined, whisk in the half-and-half mixture. Add the remaining 8 cups of bread crumbs and toss to coat. Transfer mixture to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, making sure bread cubes are evenly dispersed. Let the mixture stand for about 30 minutes, occasionally pressing on the cubes to ensure they are fully saturated.
While the custard mixture is standing, break the remaining bread cubes into very coarse crumbs. Once the bread pudding is ready, sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the surface, and lightly press them into the custard. Brush the surface with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter, then sprinkle the ginger sugar over the top.
Bake on upper middle rack for 45-50 minutes, until most of the pudding has puffed up, and no liquid is released when you gently push on the center of the pudding. Switch oven to broiler setting, and broil top of pudding until it gets golden brown. Once it starts to sizzle, keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn. Transfer to a wire rack and cool at least 45 minutes. Can be served warm or cold.
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.