Do you cook with beer? I love the depth of flavour that it adds to so many recipes. Recently, I went shopping at The Beer Store here in London, Ontario and checked out the many varieties to find just the right one for these delicious bread pudding recipes. There was a fantastic selection and the staff was extremely helpful in picking out just the right one.. They were very knowledgeable about appropriate pairings to complement my recipes. Check out my shopping trip Google+ photo album here.
I have a basic bread pudding recipe that I’ve come up with over the years. It can be used for a savoury main dish or a sweet dessert depending on the variations of ingredients you use. It’s easy to make but adds a special festive touch to any holiday meal. It’s also an excellent option for using up leftovers – add your leftover holiday ham or turkey to the savoury option! YUM!
Ingredients: (to make about 6-8 servings – it’s easy to increase or decrease this recipe though)
You’ll need some butter, oil, or cooking spray for the baking dish
6 large eggs and 6 large egg yolks
1 1/3 cups half and half or whole milk (you can even use eggnog in place of all or some of the milk/cream for a really rich taste)
12 oz. beer – you want a nice full bodied one like the Rickards Red or Rickards Dark that I’m using
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted (I highly recommend Country Crock in the Pumpkin Spice flavour for this – really tasty! If using plain butter or margarine, thrown in about 1/4 tsp. of nutmeg. You might also want about the same amount of cinnamon especially for the sweet version).
(For the sweet version only: 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar – you can also substitute some pure maple syrup for some or all of the sugar for a taste that complements the beer well)
1 12 oz. loaf of bread (your choice but for the sweet version, I’m using about 6-8 croissants in place of the bread and for the savoury version I’m using the new Dempster’s Farmhouse Bread – it’s some of the yummiest bread I’ve ever tasted and perfect for this recipe). If using loaf bread, I cut or tear it into pieces. With the croissants, I cut them in half horizontally
2 apples, cubed
1/2 cup cranberries (dried cranberries are good in this recipe too – in fact, you can substitute dried fruits for all of the fruit if preferred; lemon peel is also a nice addition)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
(For the savoury version only: 4-6 oz. cooked ham or turkey or even beef, chicken, or pork roast, cubed, 4-6 oz. shredded cheese – I used Old Cheddar but you can try other varieties as well, 1 small onion or about 3-4 shallots, chopped. If you’re using turkey, you might want to add a bit of sage. With any of the meats, seasonings like thyme, basil, rosemary or other favourites of yours can be yummy too! You can also throw in some leftover cooked veggies to round out this dish – I especially love broccoli in it! )
Instructions: Whisk together eggs, milk/cream, beer, melted butter/margarine, (and sugar if making sweet version). Be sure to butter, oil, or spray the baking dish (about a 2 1/2 quart dish) that you’re using. Put half the bread or croissants into the baking dish. Top with the cranberries, apples, nuts (and meat and half of the cheese and the veggies if making the savoury version) and then add the rest of the bread. Pour the egg mixture over this and allow it to soak in for about half an hour before baking. You might need to place a plate on top and weigh it down so that the bread gets completely submerged in the egg mixture. Top with the remaining cheese (for the savoury version) and bake at 350 degrees F for about 50-60 minutes. The bread pudding should puff up, be lightly browned, and test at 160 degrees F on a thermometer. You may need to cover it with foil partway through to keep it from browning too much. An alternate method, instead of layering it, is to simply stir the egg mixture with the bread (for this you’ll obviously need to cut up the croissants into smaller pieces if using them) until thoroughly coated. Fold in the meat, veggies, and half the cheese and then top with the remaining cheese if making the savoury variation.
Quick, easy, tasty and has so many possible variations – what more could you want from a holiday dish?
For more information on The Beer Store and beer in general, be sure to connect with The Beer Store here:
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I’ve never baked with beer, so I’d be very interested in trying this bread pudding recipe out!