Last week, I visited friends in South Carolina. Along with the culture shock that accompanies a trip to a different region of the United States, I found that the eating patterns there are different too.
Restaurants take a lot more pride in eating local that the restaurants I tend to visit in New York or New Jersey.
Even the heartiest dishes like shrimp and grits with butter, hearty succotash, and greens sautéd in bacon fat seem less indulgent because produce is fresh and brightly colored and ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible.
Though I only experienced a small portion of the South Carolina culinary landscape I agree with this food philosophy.
When I know that I am eating whole, natural foods, regardless of their calorie count, I can enjoy them with far less guilt than if they were produced from packaged mixes with a lot of ingredients ending in -ose.
I decided to keep the momentum going when I came home from vacation by baking this week’s Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread.
Now, when you have a loaf – no, make that two loaves – of Cinnamon Raisin Walnut bread just sitting on your counter staring at you like deer in headlights – and a craving for something hearty, to boot – you have some choices to make. Simple choices: Butter or jam? Toast or French toast?
Those are all fine and good, but you can also make bread pudding.
Bread pudding is a dish traced back to 18th century England, when it was traditionally a “poor man’s dish.” Now, no matter how local your eggs, butter and cream, bread pudding is definitely something that falls under the “once in awhile treat” category.
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2½ cup 1% milk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ cup raisins
- ½ cup walnuts (optional)
- 6 slices cinnamon raisin walnut bread (or your favorite cinnamon raisin bread – you can even use bagels) cut into cubes
- Heat oven to 350F. Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Add milk, raisins and butter. Mix well.
- Stir in bread cubes and mix until evenly coated. Let stand for about 10-15 minutes. Once bread has soaked up liquid (and there should still be some liquid remaining in the bowl. If there isn't, you can add more milk).
- Pour mixture into a greased 8×8 baking pan. Bake for about 40 minutes or until bread cubes are puffy and golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature with the topping of your choice.