I didn’t plan on making this wee little bread pudding. I was making a large one to serve at a reception following a program given at the Italian cultural institution I’m involved in. Laura Schenone, author of “The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken,” gave a talk about her quest for a long-lost family recipe that dates back to the middle ages. If you haven’t read the book, run out and get it. It’s a heart-felt story that proves once again that food, family and love are inextricably bound.
But as I was pouring the egg and cream mixture over the panettone into a large casserole, something told me that quality control was needed, so I made this tiny one ahead of time to try at home – solely in the interest of making sure the audience wouldn’t get sick, mind you.
I’m so glad I did because I never got the chance to taste the one at the reception. Fresh out of the oven, its aroma entranced the audience before the reception started. Once the doors to the reception room were flung open, people flocked to the bread pudding like Bacchus to a glass of wine.
With eight eggs in the recipe, it puffed up almost like a souffle, but fell almost immediately after it hit the cold air outside the oven. The base was a really great panettone with chestnuts that’s available at Williams Sonoma, but really any will do. This recipe filled a large casserole that is 9 1/2” square by 2 inches deep. If you want to do a little quality control yourself, you can also set a small portion into a little cocotte like the one in the photo above. Otherwise, once the crowd gets a whiff of this gem, you’ll be left with only the scrapings from the bottom.
Panettone Bread Pudding
1 pound panettone, cut into cubes (about 4 to 5 cups)
1 1/2 cups cream
2 1/2 c. milk (I used skim)
1/4 c. rum
1 cup sugar
1 T. vanilla
freshly ground nutmeg
Butter a large casserole (9” x 9” inch square or similar) and put the cubed panettone into the casserole. Beat the eggs with a whisk, and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and pour the liquid over the bread cubes, soaking all the panettone. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, depending on the depth of the casserole, until golden and puffed.