Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding with Butterscotch

The bread used in this recipe should be the crusty, airy, country loaf variety.  For local people - Wave Hill Bread Company's "Pain de Campagne" is the perfect choice.  Cut the bread into 1" cubes and let it sit out on a baking sheet at room temperature overnight to let it stale.  Alternatively, if you're pinched for time, you can dry the bread out in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

For the Butterscotch Sauce:
1 cup {packed} light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon

For the Bread Pudding:
1 pound day old rustic white bread, cut into 1" cubes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
pinch of kosher salt
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 vanilla bean
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

For the Butterscotch Sauce:
1.  Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.  Let the mixture simmer for about 3 minutes, or until it's reached a syrupy consistency.  Remove from heat and whisk in the heavy cream and bourbon until smooth {the mixture will bubble up after adding the liquid}.
To Make Ahead: The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead.  Let cool completely and store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.  Reheat before serving.

For the Bread Pudding:
1.  Lightly grease a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish with butter; set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, toss together the bread, melted butter and 2 tablespoons sugar; set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar together for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Add the cream, poppy seeds and salt.  Beat to combine.  Slit the vanilla bean half length-wise and scrape out the seeds.  Add the seeds and bourbon to a small bowl and whisk vigorously to disburse the seeds.  Add to the egg mixture and whisk to combine.  Pour the egg mixture over the bread.  Add the pecans and stir to combine.  Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and spread out evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
3.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 1 - 1/2 hours, or the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve with the Butterscotch Sauce.
To Make Ahead:  The pudding can be baked several hours before serving.  Cover with foil and re-heat in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. 

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