Random fact #1: I just recently lost my last baby tooth. My predicament was the result of an impacted, twisted permanent tooth that wouldn’t give the baby the boot. I have long been dreading the day when oral surgery would be required, until just before Xmas, I developed an infection. I promptly went on antibiotics, buying myself important time to savor holiday treats. After celebrating a delightfully mellow New Year’s Eve, I bit the bullet, or the mouth rest, so to speak, resigning myself to laughing gas and deep, yoga-cultivated ujjayi breathing, to set those suckers free!
Random fact #2: I am a sucker for bread pudding. The down-home-ness of dredging bread in custard implies a certain level of decadence and deliciousness that more rarefied desserts can’t compete with. I read dessert and brunch menus more avidly than I order from them, and I am always drawn to the variations on bread pudding that are advertised — from elegant almond flavored croissant bread puddings to savory stratas with sun dried tomatoes and spinach greens. Bread pudding, along with rice pudding, has been on my shortlist of frugal, versatile comfort food meals to experiment with and file away.
Random fact #3: My grandparents don’t know what to do with panettone. Every Xmas, they receive a red tin from Italy, sent by their producer friend. I have truly stylin’ grandparents, but this Italian sweetbread baffles them. So with a lingering holiday sweet tooth, a reluctance to plunge back into work, and a mandatory soft food diet, I now had my hands on the bread…
I adapted Smitten Kitchen’s “raisin-studded apple bread pudding” — sans the apples and raisins — using panettone with candied chestnuts:
Instead of whole milk, I used 2 cups heavy cream and 2 cups rice milk and everything worked out fine. Per Deb’s instructions, I opted to go with 4 cups milk and 4 eggs for a bread pudding “truly submerged and then suspended in…custard, rather than just lightly soaked in it…” I was happy with this decision — the bread cubes were still nicely bruléed on top and not overly saturated.
It was the perfect storm for a foray into bread pudding: a toothache, unwanted sweetbread, no groceries and some leftover pantry ingredients. But lest we forget the final ingredient: vicodin. From that experiment, I learned the following:
- Bread pudding can be vigorously sucked down one’s throat using one’s tongue and bottom right side of teeth only.
- Bread pudding can augment the gentle high of prescription painkillers, distributing the warm buzz of vicodin in the form of molasses-soaked sweet bread, while simultaneously offsetting nausea.
- Bread pudding helps a lady convalesce, continues the holiday feast, clears out the pantry, and keeps it classy.
- Bread pudding, I may have stitches in my gum and a slightly discernible lisp — but I sing your praises!