We waited impatiently for the flip from green to yellow in the aspen stands, but summer seemed to hold on a few weeks longer than usual. The hints dotted trails and shores on our hikes and paddles. Eventually that golden wave appeared and led the way to impressive bursts of color. We refer to this time of year as pure magic. The smell of sweet leafy fermentation lingers in the air when the aspen forests glow gold and red. It’s not rotten… rather a little funky in the way a well-aged red wine can become.
the pups are digging it
hiking for the views and the fresh air
crested butte mountain dons her fall colors
mountain passes at their finest
yuki and neva loving any season
I did not intend to be absent for this long, but mountain homes require pre-winter maintenance, fall colors demand to be seen, puppy dogs need exercise, and it was time for me to address some nagging injuries before they progressed and negated any chance of winter activities. Don’t think I haven’t been cooking! We finally kicked that awful hot weather to the curb and now have flannel sheets on the bed. The dog blankets are out of summer storage and our heat ran for the first time yesterday morning. It’s lovely baking weather in the mountains and a perfect time for fig bread pudding.
figs, butter, brandy, vanilla extract, cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, lemon (juice and zest), cinnamon bread
My initial plan was to use challah or brioche for the bread, but I thought I could use up some cinnamon bread that was hanging around the house. You can use pretty much any bread you fancy. Bread pudding is quite forgiving that way. The original recipe includes raisins, but I live with an individual who is adamantly against raisins, so they got the boot (the raisins, not Jeremy). Since I didn’t have enough figs (because I doubled the figs), I halved the recipe, but doubled the brandy because that always sounds like a good idea. Sometimes you just wing it.
chop the figs and soak in brandy
butter the bread (i did both sides, but you don’t have to)
cut the bread into cubes
This custard is lightly flavored with lemon juice and lemon zest. I consider it optional, but a nice way to brighten the bread pudding. When you add the lemon juice to the custard, it will curdle the dairy a bit. That’s normal.
mix the brown sugar with the beaten eggs
whisk in the cream, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract
When the figs have sat in the brandy for 30 minutes, you can toss them with the bread cubes. I strained the figs first to mix with the bread cubes, then drizzled the residual brandy over the bread to avoid having two or three cubes of bread absorbing all of the brandy. The baking dish I used is 7×10-inches, which equates to 60% of the surface area of a standard 9×13-inch baking dish – assuming equal heights. If you double this recipe, it should fit a 9×13-inch dish easily. If you have any left over, you can always stuff a ramekin or two with the excess filling. My baking dish was pretty full, which is how I like my bread puddings. But this can also result in spillover during baking. If your bread pudding is full-ish, I recommend setting it on a baking sheet (foil-lined is my preference) when it is in the oven.
toss the bread and figs together
pour the custard over the mixture
my custard is 1/2-inch shy of the rim and it bubbled over a little bit
I baked my bread pudding straight in the oven because 1) I was in a rush and 2) I like the caramelized dark bits on top. And it turned out well. If I were to do it again, I would opt for baking it in a water bath because gentle heating means a more even bake. Using a water bath prevents the bread pudding from drying out, prevents burning at the edges, and also keeps the custard from curdling (where the egg and dairy separate). I’ll note that in the recipe.
Ultimately, this makes a pleasant autumn dessert. Warm flavors of creamy cinnamon bread and baked fresh figs topped with a dollop of barely sweetened fresh whipped cream. It isn’t a very sweet dessert, which I like. If you want to bump the sweetness, you could serve it with ice cream or a drizzle of caramel sauce easily enough. Jeremy says it is excellent with a cup of good coffee.
fig bread pudding
3 cups fresh figs, stemmed and chopped
1/4 cup brandy
3 tbsps unsalted butter, softened
5 slices cinnamon bread (you can use regular bread instead of cinnamon)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest, grated
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine the figs and brandy in a bowl. Toss to coat the figs and let sit for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter your 7×10-inch baking dish (to make a 9×13-inch pudding, double the recipe). Butter each slice of bread (I buttered both sides). Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Stir the brown sugar and beaten eggs together in a medium bowl or 1-quart measuring cup. Whisk the milk, cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract into the egg mixture. In a large bowl, toss the bread with the figs. Spread the bread and figs into your baking dish. Pour the custard evenly over the bread. Bake* the bread pudding on a foil-lined baking sheet (in case of overflow) for 50-70 minutes until the center is golden and springs back when you gently push on it. Remove from heat. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream, or crème anglaise. Serves 6.
*For a more consistent and gentle bake, you can bake the bread pudding in a water bath by setting the pan in a much larger pan and filling the larger pan with boiling water to about 1 inch below the top of the smaller pan. Then proceed to bake as in the instructions.
more goodness from the use real butter archives
|fig and brandy jam||fresh figs with blue cheese and honey||fig vodka infusion and fig blossom cocktail||brie fig apple prosciutto sandwich|