Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

My first post on this blog was five years ago, talking about our Oscar menu*. Each year, Dan & I host his parents and sister Lisa (and sometimes more) for an Oscars viewing party, and each year we pick a theme for the menu. We've done Italian, Hawaiian, Indian... and this year we did Southern.

Dan created his own signature cocktail for the night (yet to be named) combining bourbon, Campari, peach nectar and ginger ale. He also put together two dips with crackers and veggies. We ordered Ezell's fried chicken and sides for the main course, then I made dessert.

A couple years back (after I stopped blogging every day), I made a rum bread pudding a couple times and fell in love... but lost the recipe. Last year, our Memento Brunch featured another bread pudding.
For our Southern dessert, I found this recipe online and it worked great. The great thing about bread pudding is it's difficult to screw up and it's infinitely flexible. At it's core is a loaf of bread, a quart of milk, 4 eggs, a cup of sugar and stick of butter. It's like a french toast casserole - perfect for brunch with a little fruit or maple syrup, or as a dessert with a sweet, liquor infused sauce. Okay, who am I fooling - I eat it with the sauce for breakfast.

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Pecan Bourbon Sauce

8 tbsp. butter
1 loaf soft French or Italian bread, torn into large pieces
2 medium sweet potatoes
4 cups milk
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

16 tbsp. (2 sticks) butter
3⁄4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped shelled pecans
1⁄4 cup bourbon

For the pudding: Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a medium baking dish with 1 tbsp. of the butter.

Arrange bread in a single layer in the prepared dish and set aside at room temperature to dry out slightly, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prick sweet potatoes in 4 or 5 places with the tines of a fork and bake on a baking sheet until soft, about 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then halve lengthwise and scoop meat out of skins.

If meat holds together, break it into large pieces. Tuck sweet potato pieces between the pieces of bread, mashing them down slightly with a fork.

Beat together milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Pour over bread and sweet potatoes and set aside until bread soaks up milk mixture, 2–3 hours. Cut the remaining 7 tbsp. butter into small pieces and scatter over bread pudding.

Preheat oven to 375°, then bake until custard is set, 35–40 minutes. Set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.

For the sauce: Melt butter in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until sugar melts and mixture begins to boil, about 5 minutes.

Stir in pecans and bourbon.

Spoon warm sauce over bread pudding.

Recipe from Saveur Magazine

* Since then, I've added some pictures and a few words about events prior to that, including the prior year's Hawaiian themed Oscar dinner.

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