No apologies for bread pudding

By Scott Greenberg

As your half-blinded and all-the-way hungover eyes are oozing their way over the brunch specials, you see it. French toast, stuffed with things and topped with more things. I’ll have five of them.

But suddenly you see an equally delicious, moist-but-not-too-moist bread pudding and think “Ewwww, bread and pudding? Why would I ever?”

They’re the exact same goddammed thing, people.

Stale-ass bread soaked for a few hours in eggs and milk and stuff until it looks gross and then cooked. That’s what you’re eating, whether it’s bread pudding or French toast or whatever the hell else you want to call it. Don’t start getting high and wise on me just because it has the word ‘French’ in it, and it comes with a bucket of mimosas. If you’re going to feel that way about French toast, you have to feel that way about bread pudding, too. Equality, people. It’s what brunch is missing.

Here’s what you need:

Candied orange peels:

– 1 cup sugar

– 1/2 cup warm water

– 1 orange (If you can find a blood orange, use it. They’re amazing.)

Bread pudding:

– 4 strips of cooked, thick bacon

– 8 oz. dark chocolate

– 1 slightly stale loaf of brioche or challah (I had to use French bread because I live in the middle of goddamned nowhere; do as I say, not as I do)

– 5 eggs

– 4 cups half and half

– 1 cup whole milk

– 1 teaspoon cinnamon

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1/4 cup bourbon (But really, don’t measure it, just pour)

– 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

– 1 cup packed dark brown sugar

– 2 tablespoons melted butter

Here’s what you do:

First, peel your orange, and cut the peels into thin strips roughly 1/4 inch thick.

Throw them in a pan, and pour in water until they’re covered. Turn the heat to high until the water reaches a boil, then drain the peels and repeat two more times. Yes, it’s tedious, but unless you actually want those peels to be rubberized morsels of grossness, you’re going to have to deal with it.

Once that’s done, put your warm water and sugar in a small bowl, and whisk until they’re mixed together. Pour the sugar-water over the peels, then bring it to a simmer for about eight minutes. DON’T stir the peels, just swish the sugary stuff around once enough to cover the peels. Stirring them makes them crystallize. You don’t want that.

After eight minutes, or when you see the sugar just starting to crystallize, (as you’ll see below, I completely screwed that part up), take the peels out, and set them on a drying rack to dry for five hours (This is why we’re doing this step first, people.)

Once the peels are done drying, start in on the main part.

Whisk together everything but the bacon and dark chocolate in a large bowl. It ain’t gonna look pretty, but your mouth won’t care, trust me.

Cut the bread into roughly inch-sized cubes, and put half of them into a 13×9 inch glass baking dish.

Cut your chocolate, bacon and orange peel into small pieces like the picture, and sprinkle them over the bread.

Put the rest of the bread in, then pour the disgusting egg slop custard over the bread, and let it sit for an hour. You might want to mash down the bread with a spoon or something to make sure everything gets fully covered. Sounds gross, but it’ll let that bread soak up all the flavor you just poured in there.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stick it in there for 50 minutes, then let it cool for 10 more minutes. Then eat it, and stop whining about how it sounds gross.

Make sure you preheat your ears too, with a track from the legendary Bill Evans called “Minha (All Mine).”

Everyone has a tendency to hate on the delicious, custardy goodness that is bread pudding. I know it doesn’t deserve that, and now you do too. At least you’d better respect it … otherwise I’m coming for you personally.