Just about every culture that makes bread has its own version of bread pudding. This one has a decidedly Spanish-Moorish flavor from the orange zest as well as the orange caramel sauce. In Spain, the sauce would invariably be made with blood oranges. They not only have a deep, lovely color, but also an intense flavor. If you can find them, try them; otherwise, seek out the sweetest oranges in the market. This recipe is designed for individual ramekins, but it can easily be adapted for a larger baking dish. You will have to bake it a little longer, testing it for doneness by inserting a knife into the center, as you would a cake; it is done when the knife comes out clean. Note that this recipe needs to be started the night before.—Olivier Said and James Mellgren
For the bread pudding
4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
Grated zest of 2 oranges
12 cups cubed bread (1/4-inch cubes)
6 egg yolks
For the sauce
2 cups freshly squeezed blood orange juice or regular orange juice
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Make the pudding
1. Heat the milk, granulated sugar, cinnamon stick, and orange zest in a medium saucepan over medium until the sugar dissolves. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight to steep.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Put the bread cubes in a large bowl. Reheat the milk mixture and remove the cinnamon stick. In a large bowl, lightly whisk together the yolks and eggs. Pour the milk mixture into the eggs and mix thoroughly. Pour this mixture over the bread and allow to soak for a few minutes.
3. Butter the insides of eight 5-ounce ramekins. Divide the mixture among the ramekins and place them in a roasting pan or on a large, deep sheet pan. Pour about 1 inch of water into the pan to create a water bath. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours.
Make the sauce
1. Bring the orange juice to a simmer over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan, and reduce to 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, add the cream, and set aside.
2. In another saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the granulated sugar and continue to cook stirring frequently until the sugar is lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add the orange juice mixture, stirring constantly. Simmer for 5 minutes and strain through a fine sieve.
3. Serve the pudding warm, either turned out onto individual plates or left inside the ramekins. Top with the sauce, a dollop of whipped cream, and a dusting of confectioners’ sugar.
Recipe © 2003 Olivier Said. All rights reserved.