a recipe for delicious living
Crazy for Mushrooms.... Savory Bread Pudding
(February 21, 2008)
...submit your question to Lauren!
Lori asked Lauren:
The other night, I had "bread pudding" for dessert and it was wonderful.
I've never made this at home and was wondering if it was difficult. It
wasn't like a pudding at all but, instead, it was dense and bread-like
(I guess that's the bread part...). Any help you could offer would be
very much appreciated. I've been reading this informative column religiously
for, what seems like, years now…keep up the good work!
Bread pudding is, as you have observed, not at all like a traditional
"creamy-type" pudding. It's actually bread that's either been cubed or
sliced, buttered or not and either placed in a baking dish so a custard
mixture can be poured over the top or, the cubes of bread are tossed with
the custard and then put into a baking dish. The whole thing then gets
baked until set (a tester would come out clean when inserted into the
top center of the pudding). Like "pie" there are many different variations
of bread pudding. One of the most important components of a good one is,
to know surprise, the bread. For me,
Challah makes the best bread pudding.
It's soft yet toothsome texture and slightly sweet taste is a great place
to begin to build a bread pudding that's destined to make even a stoic
happy at the table. The custard begins as a sweet quiche mixture would
(cream and/or milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla) but that doesn't mean one
has to stop there. For example: You could heat the cream infused with
crushed espresso beans, (eggs would be added after the flavored cream
is strained and cooled). Then, after straining the cream, you could stir
in some melted chocolate. Fruit puree's, sautéed fresh fruits and plumped
dried fruits are all wonderful options to include in bread pudding and
I always like to top mine with a sugar/spice and toasted nut concoction
(like what would be used on the top of muffins or another quick bread).
Here's a wonderful recipe for
Bread Pudding with Bananas, Spiced Apples
and Brandied Raisins from a back issue.
On the other hand, bread pudding need not be confined to a sweet dessert!
By switching the type of bread and any added embellishments from sweet
to savory, you can create an amazing side dish to serve alongside an entrée
that features grilled or roast beef, poultry, fish or pork. Here, try
this recipe that my family loves: Crazy for Mushrooms...Savory
Bread Pudding. Enjoy!
Crazy for Mushrooms.... Savory Bread Pudding
Yield: serves 8
Although my husband swears that this mixture
is "the best stuffing," it's not a stuffing. It does resemble a baked
stuffing, though, since the exterior is golden brown and wonderfully crisp
on top. But, this savory bread pudding is lighter and creamier than stuffing.
This recipe provides a great way to use yesterday's Italian loaf, since
it's new, slightly drier texture, is now perfectly suited for an absorptive
bread pudding. You know, that's part of the kitchen dance. Utilizing ingredients
in ways that will help them shine perfectly, without ever having to apologize
for their reincarnation.
For the Bread Pudding:
- 4 cups (packed) day-old coarse Breadcrumbs, preferably Italian
bread with sesame seeds
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the dish, plus 3 tablespoons for sautéing
- ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms
- 1½ cups boiling water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1½ cups minced yellow onion
- 2 generous teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 10 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
- 1¾ pounds shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps wiped clean and chopped
- 8 ounces portobello mushrooms (1 or 2 large), stem removed, caps wiped clean and chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1¾ cups heavy cream
- 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon white truffle oil (optional)
- ¼ to ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1) To set up to assemble the dish: Lightly
toast the bread crumbs on a shallow baking sheet in a 350° F oven,
until dry and light golden, about 10 minutes. Keep the oven set at 350°
F and transfer the crumbs to a mixing bowl. Brush the interior of a 2-quart,
oven-to-table baking dish with olive oil.
2) To reconstitute the dried mushrooms: Steep them in the boiling
water, until supple, about 20 minutes. Use your hand to lift the mushrooms
out of the water, squeezing them, gently, to release any excess liquid
back into the bowl. Chop the reconstituted mushrooms and set them aside.
Place a fine-mesh wire sieve over a bowl and line the sieve with a doubled
layer of dampened cheese cloth. Strain the mushroom liquid through the
cheesecloth, into the bowl. Measure ½ cup mushroom liquid and set
this aside. Measure the rest, which should be a scant ¾ cup. (If
necessary, add some water to reach ¾ cup.)
3) To sauté the vegetables: Melt 2 tablespoons of the
butter in a 12-inch, heavy-bottomed deep-sided skillet over medium heat.
When the butter is hot and bubbling, stir in the minced onions and cook
them, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add half
the minced thyme and some salt and black pepper, to taste. Transfer the
onions to the bowl of bread crumbs and, without wiping out the pan, put
it back over medium-high heat with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. When the
oil is hot, stir in all the chopped fresh mushrooms and, when wilted,
stir in the minced garlic and let the mushrooms cook, uncovered, stirring
occasionally, until golden and any released liquid has evaporated. Stir
in the remaining thyme, the chopped reconstituted mushrooms and salt and
pepper, to taste. When hot, transfer the mushrooms to the bowl of bread
crumbs and onions.
Replace the pan over high heat and add ½ cup of the mushroom
liquid. As the liquid bubbles, use the flat edge of a wooden spatula to
release any clinging bits of mushrooms from the bottom of the pan and
reduce the liquid to a generous ¼ cup. Pour this reduction into the
bowl of bread crumbs and vegetables.
4) To assemble the bread pudding and bake: Preheat the
oven to 350° F. Use a whisk to combine the cream with the eggs and ¾
cup mushroom liquid. Stir in the truffle oil, if using, and season the
custard with salt and pepper. When ready to bake, pour the custard over
the bread mixture and fold through to combine well. Transfer this to the
prepared baking dish and dot the top with 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake
the bread pudding, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese
over the top and continue to bake, until the top is golden, the pudding
is swollen and the custard is set, about 25 minutes more. Serve piping
Time Management Tips:
- If using fresh bread,
make the crumbs one day ahead. Or, make the crumbs weeks ahead and freeze
them in doubled sealed heavy-duty plastic bags. No need to thaw before
- All of the vegetables can be assembled one day ahead and kept refrigerated,
in securely covered bowls.
- For best texture, I suggest baking the bread pudding soon after assembling.
However, you can put combine the bread with the sautéed vegetable mixture
and mix your custard ingredients, up to two hours ahead, and keep them
on your counter at a comfortable room temperature (separately).
Questions for Lauren Groveman's Kitchen:
Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured
in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The
I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends"
and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food
for Family and Friends" are available through
For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV &
radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at
Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and
blessed with three wonderful children.