28 December 2011

AUNTIE PASTA: Joys of Christmas Leftovers

SARONNO, Italy - At some point this week, the grocery stores in Saronno will put the stacks of unsold boxes of panettone on sale. It’s the week I’ve been waiting for. I’m going to buy three of them.  One I’ll use right away to make this super-simple, absolutely delicious bread pudding. The other two I’ll cut up and freeze so I can make bread pudding later in the year. 
 Yummy Panettone
Panettone, and it's cousin Polish Easter bread, are the best to use for this recipe. They are rich and eggy and the pudding bakes into an extra-silky custard that contrasts with a  buttery golden brown top. If you want to give your pudding a little extra flavor zing, you can add a little scotch or marsala to your beaten eggs before you pour them over the panettone – no more than a teaspoon full for you only want a hint of flavor.  If you’d rather not use alcohol, even to soften the raisins, you can use plain hot water. This recipe comes out best if you use a shallow pan.
(serves 8)
  • 1/2 cup golden (or regular) raisins
  • 1/4 cup brandy (or marsala, or scotch whiskey) heated
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lb panettone, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
 Serve with lightly whipped heavy cream or soft vanilla ice cream, or just on its own.

·         Soak raisins in hot brandy 15 minutes, then drain  
·         Meanwhile, butter panettone on both sides and lightly toast in batches in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until golden brown on both sides.
·         Whisk together remaining ingredients.

·        Tear panettone into bite-size pieces and spread evenly in a buttered 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Scatter raisins over top, then pour in the egg mixture. Let stand for 30 minutes.

·         Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in the middle position.
·         Bake until pudding is golden and just set, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Add a little soft ice cream and dig in
Bread pudding can be made 2 days ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature or slightly reheat before serving. 

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