Bread Pudding

This recipe makes great use of any stale leftover white bread. The trick to the texture is the bain-marie, the water bath that helps the pudding rise evenly and stay wonderfully moist. This pudding is heaven warm with good vanilla ice cream. Chill any leftovers, which are equally delicious cold.

6 ounces stale white bread (anything from French bread to hamburger buns will work)
2 cups milk
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoons salt
3 eggs, separated (you’ll use all 3 yolks but only half of the whites)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×8 casserole dish. Cut bread into cubes and place in medium bowl. Dot with butter. Heat milk in a saucepan just until it starts to boil; remove from heat and pour over bread cubes. Let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, boil a kettle of water. Combine sugar, salt, all three egg yolks, 1/2 of the egg whites (about 1 1/2 whites–don’t worry about being exact), and vanilla in a small bowl. Blend mixture into bread-milk mixture, then add pecans. Pour into the casserole dish.

Line a large roasting pan with a damp kitchen towel. Place the pudding-filled casserole dish in the center of the towel-lined roasting pan, then add boiling water to the larger pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the casserole dish. Bake 60 minutes. Let stand about 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or chill and serve slices cold with a bit of cold heavy cream (not whipped–just pour a few tablespoons over each piece).

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