Thursday, August 24, 2017

Coconut Cream Bread Pudding

Coconut Cream Bread Pudding - made August 5, 2017, modified from Tornadough Alli
I haven’t made bread pudding in awhile. For some reason, I tend to think of it as a winter dessert and it’s been hotter than Satan’s armpit this summer. But truthfully, bread pudding is a year-round dessert since bread, milk and eggs, the basic ingredients for bread pudding, are not seasonal. It does tend to be a heavy dessert though and most people prefer lighter, cooler desserts for summer (ice cream, mousse, fruity desserts, etc).
In the interests of bucking that trend, I indulged in getting a loaf of my favorite challah from Trader Joe’s to try out this bread pudding recipe. I had high hopes since I like coconut and, again on a kick to clear out some ingredients from my pantry, I had a lone can of coconut milk waiting to be used.
All the recipes for bread pudding recommend using stale bread. I never hang onto bread long enough for it to stale since I don’t want to risk mold. But it’s easy to “manually” stale your bread by cutting it into cubes and then baking it as a low temperature in the oven for about 10 minutes, just long enough to dry out the bread but not so long that you turn them into croutons. Drying them out is important so that, ironically, the bread can better absorb the liquid custard mixture. I don’t know whether to describe that as ironic or self-defeating. Dry out the air and water, re-liquefy with milk-and-egg custard. It’s all good.
I changed the directions to let the custard absorb for a few hours rather than ten minutes that the original directions had said. I also only kept the foil on top for 30 minutes then took it off to let the top brown and rise for the last 30-40 minutes of baking.
I have mixed feelings about this bread pudding. I love coconut and I thought this would be a rich, flavorful bread pudding with the coconut milk. The texture was right in that it was like French toast on steroids, like any good bread pudding. But it lacked flavor and sweetness. The lack of sweetness wasn’t a surprise since there’s no added sugar in the custard. I would recommend adding up to ¼ cup of granulated sugar to the milk and egg mixture before pouring over the bread cubes. I thought the coconut would add enough sweetness to make up for the lack of sugar but it wasn’t.
Adding the glaze also helps to incorporate a little more sweetness. I tried the taste test bite without the glaze but that’s what made me decide to add the glaze. 
One 1-lb loaf challah, stale and cubed into 1-inch cubes
1 15-ounce can coconut milk, divided
1 1/2 cups milk
5 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups shredded or flaked coconut

2 cups confectioner's sugar
remaining coconut milk
  1. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups coconut milk, whole milk, eggs, cinnamon and 1/2 cup coconut; stir until combined.
  2. In a 2-quart casserole dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, spread a layer of bread cubes, top with 1/3 cup coconut and ladle just enough custard liquid to cover the bread. Repeat with remaining bread cubes and coconut. Ladle custard liquid over each layer, pouring all of the remaining liquid over the top. Cover and chill for at least an hour to let the liquid absorb fully into the bread cubes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover casserole dish with foil and bake for approximately 1 hour or until set and toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove foil and let bread pudding brown if not yet golden.
  4. To make glaze, mix the remainder of the coconut milk with confectioners' sugar and drizzle over top of bread pudding.

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