Serves: Makes 8 servings
- 6 large croissants
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1½cups whipping cream
- 5 eggs
- ⅔cup packed light brown sugar
- ⅔cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup chopped toasted pecans
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- For the lemon curd, whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in the top of a double boiler or in a medium metal bowl. Set over a pan of simmering, not boiling, water and cook over medium- low heat, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is thickened. Transfer the lemon curd to a bowl, which helps avoid overcooking, and lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until fully chilled.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish (2-quart capacity).
- Cut the croissants in half lengthwise and lightly butter them. Set on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 350°F.
- Break the croissants into bite-sized pieces and place half of them in the prepared baking dish. Spread about 1⁄2 cup of the lemon curd over the croissants, then top with the remaining croissants.
- Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan and bring just to a low boil over medium-high heat. Beat the eggs in a large bowl until frothy, then beat in the brown and granulated sugars, lemon zest, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. In a slow stream, whisk in the hot milk mixture. Pour over the croissants and let sit for about 30 minutes, until the custard is well absorbed by the croissants, pressing down on them with the back of a spoon now and then to assure even absorption. (All the custard may not fit into the dish at first, but more can be added as it is absorbed by the croissants.)
- Set the baking dish in a larger roasting pan and add enough hot water to the larger pan to come about halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Increase the temperature to 400°F and continue baking for about 10 minutes, until the bread pudding is browned and puffy and the custard is set. Carefully transfer the baking dish to a wire rack to cool the pudding to room temperature (or just slightly warm) before serving.
- To serve, spoon the remaining lemon curd onto individual plates and set a scoop of the bread pudding on top. Sprinkle the pecans over or pass separately.