Classic Bread Pudding

My husband requested bread pudding for his celebratory Father’s Day dessert this year. This classic dessert is second only to cheesecake in his heart. ❀

This isn’t technically another strawberry dessert… but the fresh strawberry topping definitely brought this fabulously creamy bread pudding to the next level.

The recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart.com. I omitted the raisins, modified the presentation, and added the fresh strawberry garnish. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened, for baking dish
  • 12 ounces brioche or challah, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raisins, optional (I omitted them)
  • 1 cup boiling water, optional (if using raisins), plus more for pan
  • fresh strawberry slices, for garnish, optional

Strawberry Brown Butter Bettys

Yes… I have a couple more strawberry recipes to share. This is what happens when your family picks over 12 pounds of fresh berries! 😉

Every year, I make strawberry-vanilla bean jam, strawberry shortcake cookies, fresh strawberry gelato, and pancakes with strawberries (both sourdough & simple but perfect)- at the very least. After adding a new strawberry cocktail and spoon cake to the list this year, we still had plenty of berries to enjoy.

This recipe was adapted from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen.com. I doubled the recipe to make 12 desserts, used lemon juice instead of zest, and used potato bread instead of white sandwich bread. I measured the berries prior to slicing them.

I loved the combination of browned butter with berries in these simple tarts. We ate them with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. They would also be wonderful served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Yield: 6 muffin-sized desserts

  • 3/4 stick salted or unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 6 slices potato sandwich bread or white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated OR 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp coarse salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 (generous) cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection, with rack in middle.
  2. Make the Brown Butter: In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, reduce heat to medium-low. The butter will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is less than a minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Lightly butter muffin cups with some of brown butter, then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  4. Roll bread slices with a rolling pin to flatten.
  5. Brush both sides with additional brown butter, then gently fit into muffin cups.
  6. Stir together brown sugar, zest or juice, salt, and panko.
  7. Add strawberries to the sugar mixture and toss to coat.
  8. Stir in remaining brown butter.
  9. Heap strawberry mixture into the prepared bread cups, pressing gently.
  10. Cover pan with foil, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes.
  11. Uncover and bake until strawberries are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes more. (I baked mine for 12 minutes more.)
  12. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Baker’s Banana-Nut Bread

Yes! Another sourdough recipe- all so good! I love that this recipe combines two of the most popular items to bake during this period of self-isolation- sourdough and banana bread. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from theperfectloaf.com. I incorporated whole wheat flour, added turbinado sugar to the topping, and baked the loaf in a Pullman loaf pan, adjusting the baking time accordingly. I loved that this version included olive oil for moisture and honey for sweetness. Lovely.

We ate it as-is, but the original recipe recommends spreading full-fat Greek yogurt over the top of each slice.

Yield: One standard or Pullman loaf

  • 240g (2 cups) spelt, whole wheat, all-purpose flour, or a mix
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
  • 125g (1 cup) chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
  • 126g(1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup lightly packed) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g (3/4 cup, stirred down) sourdough starter
  • 42g (2 tablespoons) raw honey
  • 3 super ripe medium mashed bananas (almost black and mushy)
  • 28g (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional
  • turbinado sugar, for topping, optional
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ÂșF, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, mix a handful of chopped walnuts or pecans and a teaspoon or two of turbinado sugar. Set aside to be used as the topping later.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time. While mixing, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add in sourdough starter, honey, mashed bananas, and olive oil.
  8. Add in the vanilla.
  9. Add the flour mixture slowly, pausing to scrape down the sides if necessary.
  10. By hand, fold in the remaining walnuts or pecans and lemon zest.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  12. Sprinkle on the reserved chopped nuts and sugar.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes in a Pullman loaf pan or 55-65 minutes in a standard loaf pan. (It’s better to undercook this than overcook: you want it moist.)
  14. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently remove onto a wire rack to thoroughly cool.

Note: This banana bread will stay moist for days after baking, but be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container to prevent moisture loss.

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

I have been sharing quite a few sourdough recipes… and I have quite a few more. 😉 I made many of these baked goods while waiting for my sourdough starter to become fully active- which took a full month!

Now it’s (finally) time to share the most simple and delicious sourdough bread recipe I’ve made thus far. It is a sourdough version of the famous Dutch oven “no-knead” bread. Heavenly.

The recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. I weighed the ingredients. I liked that the bread bakes on a piece of parchment paper inside the Dutch oven which is an improvement from the classic Sullivan Street No-Knead Bread. The preparation process begins the night before baking the loaf.

Yield: 1 large round loaf

Time: 1 1/4 hours, plus 14 hours resting

  • 18.3 oz (3 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour (preferably King Arthur or substitute any brand bread flour)
  • 1 3/4 tsp fine sea salt or coarse salt
  • 12.6 oz (1 1/2 cups plus 4 tsp) water, room temperature
  • 3 oz (1/3 cup) mature sourdough starter
  1. Ideally, feed your starter the morning you are planning to make the dough. Leave it at room temperature for up to 12 hours. (I weighed and fed 3oz of starter with equal parts water and flour and left it loosely covered at room temperature for 10 -12 hours.)
  2. Whisk flour and salt together in medium bowl. (I try to start the process at 7pm)
  3. Whisk room-temperature water and starter in large bowl until smooth.
  4. Add flour mixture to water mixture and stir using wooden spoon, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until dough comes together, then knead by hand in bowl until shaggy ball forms and no dry flour remains.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours or up to 18 hours.
  6. Lay 12 by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter and spray generously with vegetable oil spray.
  7. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead 10 to 15 times. (I lightly flour my hands as well.)
  8. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. (For the best rise, you want to create a smooth, round, somewhat taut top.)
  9. Transfer dough, seam side down, to center of parchment.
  10. Pick up dough by lifting parchment edges and lower into heavy-bottomed Dutch oven. Cover with plastic wrap.
  11. Adjust oven rack to middle position and place a metal loaf or cake pan in bottom of oven.
  12. Place pot on middle rack and pour 3 cups of boiling water into pan below.
  13. Close oven door and let dough rise until doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with your floured finger, 2 to 3 hours.
  14. Remove pot and water pan from oven; discard plastic from pot.
  15. Lightly flour top of dough (I use a small sieve) and, using razor blade, kitchen shears, or sharp knife, make one 7-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. (Using kitchen shears, I made a large # on the top of the dough instead.)
  16. Cover pot and place on middle rack in oven.
  17. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Bake bread for 30 minutes (start timing as soon as you turn on the oven).
  18. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. (I baked mine for an additional 22 minutes.)
  19. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Traditional Ukrainian Easter Bread Podil’ia Style (Podil’ska Paska)

Happy Belated Easter! We were very lucky to enjoy beautiful weather yesterday. 🙂

I like to bake new Easter breads to serve for our holiday breakfast. This year, I looked through my Ukrainian cookbook collection for a paska (Ukrainian Easter bread) recipe.

My mother-in-law has given me several Ukrainian cookbooks and there were many variations of paska to choose from- all quite different from one another depending upon the region of their origin. Traditionally, a paska or babka is an essential part of an Easter breakfast. Many are beautifully decorated with a cross, braid, or birds. This version is more of a cake, with batter, and did not have dough that could be used to decorate the top.

The recipe was adapted from Festive Ukrainian Cooking by Marta Pisetska Farley. According to the book, this paska recipe, from the northwest province of Podil’ia, is at least a hundred years old! It is a golden paska, reminiscent of the sun, and is similar to a sponge cake.  It was very rich and indulgent.

Yield: One 9 or 10-inch cake

  • 1 cup dry white bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 10 large or extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 T powdered sugar
  1. Line the bottom and sides or a 9, 10 or 12-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (Because I used a 9-inch pan (smaller than the original recipe suggests), I cut 7-inch tall pieces of parchment paper to line the sides of the pan, buttered on the portion lining the walls of the pan and sprayed with cooking spray above the walls of the pan.)
  2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  3. Sift the bread crumbs until fine, then sift again with the flour baking powder, and spices.
  4. Add the grated lemon and orange zest.
  5. Separate the eggs.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg yolks with the granulated sugar until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla and beat again.
  8. Fold the bread crumb mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  9. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the batter until no white streaks can be seen.
  10. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until set or a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. (I was afraid that the cake would fall if I checked it too early- and baked it for 1 hour.)
  11. When fully baked, keep the cake in the oven with the door ajar, and allow to cool slowly. (The cake may fall slightly. Mine did!)
  12. When cool, remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Serve.

English Muffin Bread

I have another special breakfast to share. Having a treat to start the day brings a little sunshine. 🙂

I am not really a bread person, but I do really enjoy English muffins. I often have a whole wheat “British muffin” from Trader Joe’s for breakfast. Naturally, this bread full of nooks and crannies caught my eye.

The recipe is from Shauna Sever’s Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland. It is easy and relatively quick to prepare, with only one rising time. She suggests baking the loaf in a German Rehrucken (crimp loaf pan) or standard loaf pan. I baked the loaf in my favorite Pullman loaf pan and modified the baking time accordingly.

The original recipe recommends making it a day ahead to serve it toasted the next day. We ate warm from the oven, slathered with salted Irish butter and our homemade strawberry-vanilla bean jam. We did toast the leftovers! Perfect.

Yield: One loaf

  • nonstick cooking spray, for pan
  • 3 T (30 g) yellow cornmeal, divided
  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup (75 g) warm water (110° to 115°F/43° to 46°C)
  • 3 tsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 cups (384 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (225 g) well-shaken buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 T plus 1 tsp (32 g) vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 1 T unsalted butter, melted
  1. Lightly spray a 9×5-inch (23×12.7 cm) metal loaf pan, German Rehrucken crimp loaf pan, or Pullman loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Wipe away any excess that pools in the edges.
  2. Dust the pan all over with about 2 tablespoons of cornmeal; tap out the excess.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Let rest for a couple of minutes.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whisk together the flour, the remaining 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, salt, and baking soda.
  5. On low-speed, stir in the buttermilk, oil, and finally the yeast mixture. Mix until incorporated. (It is very important that the buttermilk is at room temperature so that the dough can rise well.)
  6. Increase the speed to high and mix for 1 minute, stopping halfway through to scrape down the bowl. The dough will be soft and sticky.
  7. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan.
  8. Oil your hands lightly and pat the dough gently and evenly into the pan.
  9. Sprinkle the top with the remaining tablespoon of cornmeal.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled and the dough comes about 1 inch from the top of the pan, about 1 hour. (I used a proofing oven.)
  11. During the rise, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 400°F/200°C.
  12. Bake the bread until golden and risen, with a hollow sound when tapped int he center, 22 to 25 minutes for a standard or crimped loaf pan, or 18 to 20 minutes for a Pullman loaf pan. The internal temperature should register at least 190°F/88°C on an instant-read thermometer.
  13. Turn out the bread onto a wire rack. Brush lightly all over with the melted butter. (I only brushed the top.)
  14. Let cool completely before slicing- if you can wait!

Light Wheat Sandwich Bread

This sandwich bread was so pretty! It also sliced like a dream. 🙂

The recipe is from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, via Smitten Kitchen.com. I weighed the flours and used coarse salt. I mixed and kneaded the dough in a stand mixer and used a proofing oven as well.

The original post had a link for the windowpane test– which was quite helpful! I added additional kneading time to my dough after it failed the test.

Yield: One 2-pound loaf

  • 2 1/2 cups (11.25 oz) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (.75 oz) granulated sugar or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.38 oz) coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons (1 oz) powdered milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (.17 oz) instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz) water, at room temperature
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the high-gluten/bread flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar (if using), salt, powdered milk, and yeast in a 4-quart mixing bowl.
  2. Add the butter, honey (if using), and water.
  3. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water. The dough should feel soft and supple. It is better for it to be a little too soft that to be too stiff and tough.
  4. Using a dough hook, knead the dough on medium speed for 6 to 8 minutes. (To knead by hand, sprinkle flour on the counter, and transfer the dough, and begin kneading, adding more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky. Kneading should take about 10 minutes.) The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees F.
  5. Lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  6. Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. (I used a proofing oven for 1 1/2 hours.)
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and press it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long.
  8. Form it into a loaf by working from the short side of the dough, rolling up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension. It will spread wider as you roll it.
  9. Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.
  10. Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pan; the ends of the loaf should touch the ends of the pan to ensure an even rise. Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
  11. Proof at room temperature for approximately 60 to 90 minutes (final rising times vary), or until the dough crests above the lip of the pan. (I used a proofing oven and the dough was ready in about 45 to 50 minutes.)
  12. Preheat the oven to 350° F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. (I used the true convection setting.)
  13. Place the bread pan on a sheet pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  14. Rotate the pan 180° for even baking and continue baking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the oven. The finished loaf should register 190° F in the center, be golden brown on the top and the sides, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  15. When the bread is finished baking, remove it immediately from the loaf pan and cool it on a rack for at least 1 hour, preferably 2 hours, before slicing or serving.

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