So many options with this dish! It’s like a choose-your-own-adventure story. So let’s talk, let’s just talk, about your choices here:
· You can stir a bunch of delicious options into the pudding – such as chocolate chunks or coconut shavings – or you can leave it be (as given below) and savour the already-delicious combination of vanilla, orange, and almonds. If you opt for an add-in variation, obviously stir some of the added ingredient into the actual puddings, but also tinker around with the dairy (e.g. by adding some cocoa powder to the milk for chocolate, or subbing coconut milk for the heavy cream in the coconut variation). The cinnamon, orange, and almonds are also all totally negotiable when using add-ins; consider if those flavours work with your variation and feel free to tweak them if they don’t.
· The type of dish you use will dictate your texture results. A larger, shallower dish gives you more crunchy, golden surface area while a smaller, deeper dish will yield more creamy, custardy bites. I think I prefer the latter option, but the former actually dishes up prettier, so if that matters to you, take it into account.
· Consider a sauce, even if it’s just scoops of ice cream that then melt a bit over the still-warm pudding, or soft blobs of sweetened whipped cream. You could also go all out and make something like a crème anglaise if you felt like being terribly accomplished and show-offy.
Also, a final word: don’t burn the milk! There will come a point in the instructions where you are implored to watch the milk so carefully and you must heed the warning! Don’t be a dummy and think you have time to re-arrange all the plants in the house! You don’t! The milk will boil over onto your stupid glass-top stove, which is such a stupid garbage stove, I hate those stoves.
So…mind the milk.
BA’s Best: Bread Pudding
Taken from BA’s Best arsenal, with the most minor of tweaks here and there
1 loaf challah or brioche bread, torn into ~2 inch pieces (~8 cups’ worth)
1 cinnamon stick
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 ½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 ½ cups whole milk
1/3 cup white sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 3-inch strip of orange peel
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted & divided + more for greasing pan
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp raw sugar (or brown sugar)
¼ cup sliced almonds
Finely grated orange zest, to garnish
Toppings or add-ins as desired
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and arrange a rack in the centre. Grease your chosen baking dish with butter and set aside. Spread the torn bread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, tossing halfway through and monitoring to ensure it does not burn, for ~25-30 minutes or until very dry and slightly toasted. Let cool then transfer to a large, deep bowl. Meanwhile, heat the cinnamon, vanilla bean, cream, milk, white sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high. As soon as the mixture starts to boil (watch it SO carefully), remove it from the heat. Whisk in the orange peel and 2 tbsp butter, then let it all steep (with a lid on) for 30 minutes. Pluck out and discard the cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and orange peel. Pour the steeped milk into a blender and add the egg and yolks; blend on low and gradually increase the speed to high, until the mixture is light and foamy, ~30 seconds. Pour the eggy mixture over the dried bread pieces and toss to coat well. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 12.
Brush the remaining 2 tbsp melted butter over the soaked bread. Sprinkle with raw sugar and top with almonds. Bake until the pudding is lightly golden, puffed, and bubbling, ~30-40 minutes. Let cool for ~1 hour before serving in whatever goddamn way you wish to serve it.