Serves: Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 (12-ounce) loaf day-old Italian bread, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
- 4 large eggs
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon dark rum
- Big pinch of kosher salt
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger
- 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar, or other coarse sugar
Procedures:Even people who aren't fans of bread pudding sing the praises of this one. The warmth of the ginger infuses the custard while adding a little zing to each bite. To keep crystallized ginger (and other sticky ingredients such as dried fruit) from sticking to your knife, coat the knife with a very light film of vegetable oil or spray. Demerara and turbinado sugars are becoming increasingly available in supermarkets, but if you can't find either one, any sugar with larger crystals will do, or even regular granulated sugar. A good-quality serrated knife makes quick work of cubing the bread.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Spread the butter on one side of each bread slice. Cut each slice into 1-inch strips and then crosswise into 1-inch cubes using a serrated knife. You should have about 12 cups. Set aside.
- Combine the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, rum, and salt in a very large bowl. Whisk just until blended. Add the bread and toss gently just until all the cubes are thoroughly coated. Sprinkle on the ginger and stir gently to combine. Pour the mixture into an 8-cup baking dish (7 by 11-inch works well), spreading it evenly; the pudding will fill the pan to the rim. Let stand for 10 minutes, pressing the top layer of bread with the back of a large spoon every few minutes.
- Sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the bread. Bake until the pudding has puffed, the top and bottom are light golden brown, and a knife inserted into the center comes out hot, 60 to 65 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm.