this bread pudding jumped out at me as soon as i saw it. it has become a tradition for christmas brunch to make a panettone bread pudding/french toast. this year seemed harder to find panettone at the local stores so when i saw this recipe ‘savory bread pudding with bacon and farmstead cheese with tomato jam’, it seemed to be a great alternative. the tomato jam is an unexpected element that really works with the bread pudding. the bacon, thyme, and cheese are wonderful in the milk/cream drenched bread. bread pudding can be intimidating as there are several steps, but don’t be. the reward is out of this world.
the recipe came from Heat to Harvest. it is a gorgeous new cookbook that i purchased for my husband for his birthday. not sure who likes it more…
1 1lb loaf of italian or french country-style bread, crusts trimmed and cut into large cubes
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted
¼ lb smoked bacon, sliced, cooked and crumbled; rendered fat reserved
1 c heavy cream
3 c milk
3 lg eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tbs fresh thyme, chopped
¼ tsp coarse salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
for the tomato jam:
4 lg ripe tomatoes, red or yellow, quartered
¾ c brown sugar
¾ c granulated sugar
1 lemon, cleaned and thinly sliced
½ lb hannahbell cheese or soft ripened cow’s milk cheese
to make the tomato jam:
combine the tomatoes, both sugars, ½ cup water, and lemon slices in a medium heavy bottomed pot. bring to a simmer and cook for 2 hours over low heat, stirring occasionally and making sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. the jam will be done when most of the liquid is reduced and the mixture becomes very thick. let cool. if not using right away¸let cool completely, cover, and refrigerate for up to a week.
to make the bread pudding:
put the cubed bread in a large bowl, then pour the butter and 1 tbs of the rendered bacon fat over the bread and mix to coat evenly. in another large bowl, combine the cream, milk, eggs, egg yolks, thyme, salt, and pepper. pour the mixture over the bread and allow to sit for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.
heat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease the bottom of a 9×5 inch loaf pan. with a slotted spoon, arrange a third of the bread evenly in the bottom of the dish. add a layer of crumbled bacon over the bread and then a layer of cheese (you can break off small pieces) on top of the bacon. repeat the layers, reserving a quarter of the cheese to cover the final layer. place the baking dish in a roasting pan, pour boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish, and place in the oven. cook for about 1 hour 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the bread pudding comes out clean. let cool completely. can be made a day ahead.
when ready to serve, heat the tomato jam over low heat, adding a bit of water, a tablespoon at a time, if it’s a bit thick. remove the bread pudding from the loaf pan by unmolding onto a large plate. cut into ½ inch slices. heat a large skillet over medium high heat and brown the slices for 1 minute per side, or until golden brown. serve warm, with the warm tomato jam on the side.