The baguette is mocking me.

I bought it for Friday’s dinner but promptly forgot about it. Now four days later, it sits in its sad paper package — rock hard and sneering at my wastefulness.

Usually when I have stale bread, I haul out the food processor and make bread crumbs. But this recalcitrant loaf is so hard it just bounces around the blades.

I briefly consider slicing it and dipping it into an egg-and-milk wash for French toast. But it will be the crunchiest, driest French toast we’ve ever had. Nothing the family will eat. (They’ll sneer.)

Should I just pitch it in the trash?

No, what this loaf needs is some spa time: A long, slow soak to loosen it up and lighten its bad baguette attitude.

That’s when it hits me. My baguette is begging to become bread pudding! I have some crystallized ginger and almonds in the cupboard, a square or two of bittersweet chocolate and a couple of clementines just this side of soggy. I can cube the bread; sprinkle it with ginger and almonds, zest and chocolate; then blanket it with eggs, milk and sugar. It can hang out in the fridge overnight. I’ll slip it into a nice warm oven in the morning.

And just like that …

pudding baked

… my baguette becomes breakfast, and nothing gets trashed.

(Who’s sneering now?)

Breakfast Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is an improviser’s dream. After making sure you have the basics (bread, eggs & milk), you can add whatever flavorings you crave (or have on hand). In this version, the whole wheat baguette is toothsome and nutty; the minced ginger and chocolate shards offer sweet surprises. It isn’t cloying — in fact, double the amount of sugar if you plan on offering this as dessert. But it’s a lovely breakfast, particularly if served with berry jam or marmalade on the side.

  • 1 whole wheat baguette
  • 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
  • 2 tablespoons almonds
  • Zest of 1 orange (or 2 clementines)
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Grated bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Cut the baguette into 1-inch cubes (leaving the crust on):

puddin bread

Generously butter a 9-inch baking dish. Lay the bread cubes down in a single layer. Sprinkle with crystallized ginger, almonds, orange zest, cinnamon & nutmeg. Dust the top with grated chocolate:

pudding assembled

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and sugar. Pour over the bread.

Press the bread into the liquid, making sure all the ingredients are submerged. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, slip the dish into a 350-degree oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before spooning onto plates.

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