Currant Fennel Bread Pudding

By Beacon Staff

One of the greatest things about being a chef is being able to search out and try different products. Since opening the Culinary Design Studio our main focus has been searching out local producers and promoting their products by using them in our cuisine. One of the best finds along this journey has been the Ceres Bakery. A family owned and operated business on Main Street in Kalispell, it offers a wide variety of artisan bread and pastry as well as a nice espresso bar. The Culinary Design Studio uses Ceres bread exclusively because of the quality of the product and the fact that it is a locally owned business. I am able to have direct contact with the bakers and this allows me to have bread custom made for specific dishes like this one. In this recipe I use its Currant Fennel Loaf to make one of my favorite desserts, bread pudding.

Before getting started you will need to gather the following ingredients:

One loaf Ceres Bakery bread, I used a loaf of currant fennel bread
4 T. (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 T. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
1 t. fresh cinnamon, grated w/ a micro plane
1 orange, zest only
1/4 t. salt

This recipe takes a bit of prep because I like to dry the bread for 24 hours in open air to make it a bit stale. So first, cut your loaf of bread into one-inch cubes and place in a container without a lid for 24 hours. This needs to be a dry environment. After the 24 hours, add the sugar, eggs, milk, cream, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, salt and orange zest to a blender and mix to combine. Now it is time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and butter your casserole. During this time the bread will have soaked up some of the custard mixture and is ready to be transferred to the buttered casserole dish. Bake on the center rack of your oven for 40 minutes or until the eggs have set and the top is nice and golden brown. I like to serve this dessert hot with a bit of ice cream but it is just as good cold with a cup of coffee … Enjoy!

Josh Auerhammer is the chef/owner of Cuinary Design Studio in Bigfork.

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