Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bread Pudding with Bourbon, Pecans & Butterscotch


When I saw this recipe in the November issue of Bon Appétit I knew I would make it.  I thought maybe as a Thanksgiving dessert.  But, it turns out I couldn't wait that long and made it the day after it arrived in my mailbox.  Of course the fact that it was a bread pudding comprised of pecans, and bourbon, and butterscotch sold me.  More than all that though, I was intriqued by the use of poppy seeds in this dessert.  Poppy seeds in bread pudding?  Well, yes...and they work.  The little bits of black splattered among all the other rich, creamy goodness add a nice crunch and texture. 

This recipe is delicious and inventive, and I wouldn't expect anything less from Anita Lo, the original recipe's author.  If you're as much of a food television addict as I am, then you may know Anita from her stints on Chopped: All-Stars, Season One of Top Chef Masters, or as a contestant in the first season of Iron Chef America, where she became the first challenger to beat an Iron Chef.  Can you tell I'm a fan?

While making the butterscotch sauce for the bread pudding I began pondering what the difference was between butterscotch and caramel.  Aren't they pretty much the same thing?  Is it a regional thing?  They look and taste about the same...maybe butterscotch being a bit deeper in flavor than caramel.
Well, it turns out the difference is in the type of sugar used.  Caramel is made with white sugar and butterscotch is made with brown sugar, or a combo of both as it's done in this recipe.  Aha!  So there you go...your fun food fact of the day.

I've adapted the recipe here to suit my taste...primarily cutting back on the very heavy use of butter and salt.  Trust me when I say that even with these adaptations, this is still a very decadent, rich dessert.  Something you pull out once a year for a special occasion, such as Thanksgiving.  It also has the added usefulness of being easily prepared ahead of time, something we can all appreciate during the holidays.   

If you decide to make this ahead of time - make the sauce, let it cool to room temperature, then store it in an airtight container for up to 3 days.  Reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat or in the microwave.  You can bake the pudding, which should be soaked in the custard overnight, early in the day - then cover the baking dish with foil and reheat in a 350 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until warm throughout. 
This post is my November contribution to the food website, CTBites.  Be sure to click over there and check it out!

Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding with Butterscotch

Adapted from a recipe by Anita Lo via Bon Appétit
Serves 10
The bread used in this recipe should be the crusty, airy, country loaf variety.  For local people - Wave Hill Bread Company's "Pain de Campagne" is the perfect choice.  Cut the bread into 1" cubes and let it sit out on a baking sheet at room temperature overnight to let it stale.  Alternatively, if you're pinched for time, you can dry the bread out in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes. 
For the Butterscotch Sauce:
1 cup {packed} light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon

For the Bread Pudding:
1 pound day old rustic white bread, cut into 1" cubes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
pinch of kosher salt
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

For the Butterscotch Sauce:
1.  Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  Let the mixture simmer for about 3 minutes, or until it's reached a syrupy consistency.  Remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream and bourbon until smooth {the mixture will bubble up after adding the liquid}.
To Make Ahead: The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead.  Let cool completely and store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.  Reheat before serving.

For the Bread Pudding
:
1.  Lightly grease a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish with butter; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, toss together the bread, melted butter and 2 tablespoons sugar; set aside. 
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar together for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Add the cream, poppy seeds and salt.  Beat to combine.  Slit the vanilla bean half length-wise and scrape out the seeds.  Add the seeds and bourbon to a small bowl and whisk vigorously to disburse the seeds.  Add to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread.  Add the pecans and stir to combine.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread out evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
3.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 1 - 1/2 hours, or the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve with the Butterscotch Sauce. 
To Make Ahead:  The pudding can be baked several hours before serving.  Cover with foil and re-heat in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  

Click here for the printable recipe.

13 comments:

charlotte au chocolat said...

Looks delicious! I thought the Nov issue of BA was gorgeous.

london bakes said...

How wonderfully rich and decadent. That butterscotch sauce looks fabulous!

I need to go and buy this month's Bon Appetit very soon - if this is anything to go by, I'm going to love the whole magazine!

Laurie {Simply Scratch} said...

WOWOW! That first pic makes me wish I could reach through the screen and have a bite! This looks fantastic!! :)

Joanne said...

I basically drool over this recipe every time I open that issue of Bon Appetit...and realize I can't make it until I have a definite plan to get it out of the house otherwise I will FOR SURE eat the whole batch. Amazing.

Beth Michelle said...

Drooling. Must. Make. This.
Looks amazingggggg

the food dude said...

Delicious pudding, awesome photos!

Anonymous said...

My MIL made this for Thanksgiving. It is Fabulous! This is a defenite keeper! It makes a large pan but it won't last long. :o)

Mom to the mighty Zman said...

Is there a substitute for the bourbon?

katie said...

Vanilla extract would probably work in place of the bourbon...or you could just omit the booze altogether.

Morgan Webb said...

What kind of bread should I buy from the grocery store?

katie said...

@Morgan - You should use a rustic loaf of white bread, or even a baguette would work. You might need more than one baguette though, depending on the size. You'll need a pound total.

Texas Bullets said...

Could you use french bread?

katie said...

@TexasBullets Yes, you can absolutely use French bread for this.

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