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Bread pudding

I admit, the portion I ate was twice this size!

Baby already knows her mother well. One of the only daytime tv shows I consider worth watching on the few channels we receive is In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita. I only recently discovered it, because it happens to coincide with one of Baby’s feedings. Now I watch it as long as Baby’s feeding schedule allows.

The other day Stefano did a show about using leftover bread. The last recipe of the episode was a bread pudding. He brought back memories of my childhood.

When I was little, we had bread pudding for dinner every once in a while. My mom would diligently let dry every scrap piece of bread and collect them in an old ice cream container. When the container was full, it was time for bread pudding. She’d soak the bread in a milk and egg mixture, then mix in some sliced apples and raisins. Only lightly sweetened, she’d serve it with homemade vanilla sauce.

Inspired by Stefano and with memories on my mind, I decided it was time to make bread pudding. We would eat it for dinner/dessert following a hearty soup. I admit that I purposely bought bread for the recipe, because I wanted to use an appropriate egg bread. (We ate a light rye bread at home when I was growing up. Inevitably this old rye bread found its way into the bread pudding and the flavour of the bread was a bit too pronounced for my taste… What I always expected to be a more dessert-like meal just wasn’t.)

Since the loaf was big enough for two dishes, I made two versions (on separate occasions); both were much less healthy than my mom’s. The first was a dark chocolate and sour cherry bread pudding and the second was a white chocolate, blueberry and hazelnut bread pudding. I’d make them both again. So simple, so yummy, and a perfect way to use old bread 😉

Recipe: Dark Chocolate and Sour Cherry Bread Pudding

Dark chocolate and sour cherry bread pudding

Makes one 9″ x 9″ dish. Tastes great – almost better – the next day!

4 cups egg bread (day old; I used Rideau Bakery‘s egg bread; one loaf was good for two dishes)
1½ cups sour cherries (I used frozen ones, but I think preserved ones (from a jar) would work too)
2 tbsp rum (optional)
½ cup chopped dark chocolate (I used Lindt)
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
3 cups milk
1 cup whipping cream (35%)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9″ x 9″ square baking dish.

Combine sour cherries and rum. Set aside. (If using sour cherries from a jar, drain them first, although it’s ok if there’s a bit of cherry juice in the mix.)

Bread pudding before baking

Bread pudding before baking.

Tear bread into pieces and place in a large bowl. Add sour cherry mixture and chocolate. Toss lightly to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs with sugar until combined. Whisk in milk and cream. Pour egg custard mixture over bread and stir to evenly combine. Let stand for 15 minutes so that bread absorbs the egg mixture.

Pour bread and custard mixture to the buttered dish; it will fill the dish to the top. Bake until custard is set, and top of bread pudding springs back lightly when touched, approx. 45 minutes.

Recipe: White Chocolate, Blueberry and Hazelnut Bread Pudding

White chocolate, blueberry and hazelnut bread puddingMakes one 9″ x 9″ dish. Tastes great – almost better – the next day!

4 cups egg bread (day old; I used Rideau Bakery‘s egg bread; one loaf was good for two dishes)
1½ cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup chopped white chocolate (I used Callebaut)
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 eggs
½ cup sugar
3 cups milk
1 cup whipping cream (35%)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9″ x 9″ square baking dish.

Tear bread into pieces and place in a large bowl. Add blueberries, white chocolate and three-quarters of the hazelnuts (keep the rest to sprinkle on top). Toss lightly to combine.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs with sugar until combined. Whisk in milk and cream. Pour egg custard mixture over bread and stir to evenly combine. Let stand for 15 minutes so that bread absorbs the egg mixture.

Pour bread and custard mixture to the buttered dish; it will fill the dish to the top. Sprinkle reserved hazelnuts on top. Bake until custard is set, and top of bread pudding springs back lightly when touched, approx. 45 minutes.

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Swiss Zopf

Freshly baked Swiss Zopf, ready to be shared with a great mom! For these ones, I used a combination of unbleached white flour, spelt flour and multigrain flour. Although they look nice, the result was not ideal. I should heed my mom's advice: stick to the recipe, i.e. use plain flour!

Baking Zopf, a Swiss braided yeast bread, in preparation for brunch with my mother-in-law made me think of my mom. She lives in Vancouver and I won’t get to see her until the end of June, so this is for her. Happy Mother’s Day Mami!

My mom is a generous woman who is always thinking of others. So much so, that sometimes I wish she were a bit more selfish and would take care of herself first. But that’s not the way she is. When I visit, she’ll always ask me if there’s anything I want her to make. It’s so easy to say “yes” to something deliciously homemade, even when I think it wouldn’t be necessary.

Zopf was one of those special, made-with-love Sunday treats we’d have a couple of times per year. Hers are my benchmark. Mine aren’t on par yet, but I keep trying. And each time, I think of her. For me, Zopf will always be linked to my mom.

Recipe: Zopf

1kg flour
1 ½ tsp salt
30g active dry yeast
500mL milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
200g butter
1 egg (for egg wash)

Zopf mixing

Mixing Zopf ingredients.

Zopf kneading

The kneaded Zopf dough.

Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre. Heat 100mL milk (38° C) and stir in yeast. Pour into well. Melt butter over low heat. Add remaining 400mL milk and beaten egg to butter, then add butter-milk-egg mixture to yeast mixture in the well. Mix slowly to combine, then knead for at least 10 minutes (15 minutes if kneading by hand). Let rise until doubled in volume.

Zopf braiding step 1

Step 1: Create a cross.

Zopf braiding step 2

Step 2: Fold over left to right, and right to left.

Zopf braiding step 3

Step 3: Fold top to bottom, bottom to top

Zopf braiding step 4

Step 4: Continue left/right, top/bottom.

Zopf, done

Step 5: Tuck ends under. Almost ready to bake!

Preheat oven to 350° F/180° C. Punch down the dough. Separate into two to three pieces (depending on what size and how many “loaves” you’d like), then divide each piece into two. Work with two pieces at a time. Roll out each one, making the ends less thick than the centre. Place one rolled out piece over the other to create a cross. To braid, fold the end on the left across the middle to the right, and the end on the right across the middle to the left. Next, fold the end on the top across the middle to the bottom, and the end on the bottom across the middle to the top. Continue alternating left/right, top/bottom until no dough is left. Tuck the ends under. This video is a good Zopf braiding demo. Braid remaining loaves. Let rest 15 minutes in a cool spot.

Brush with egg wash and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown. Share with a great mom!

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