I’ve got a thing for Maine blueberries. I know I’m not the only one. All year long, I try hard to avoid the berries that show up suspiciously at the market out of season. By the time June hits, I sometimes can’t help myself and will buy a few pints of cultivated blueberries from New Jersey, just for a fix. But while I admit to loving those too, they just aren’t the same as those teeny-tiny native blueberries from my favorite state.
They are worth the wait. I mostly eat them right out of the green cardboard carton or from the colander while it’s still draining in the sink. Sometimes they actually make it onto my morning cereal or as a topping for vanilla ice cream. Very rarely do the blueberries ever stick around long enough in this house to be used for baked treats. You’ve really got to plan ahead- and perhaps have a good hiding spot – to be able to bake with blueberries in this house.
Lucky for me, my mom requested that I pick up three pints of the native berries from our favorite farm stand earlier this week. Smart woman. With an extra pint of blueberries on hand, a nice loaf of white bread in the kitchen and family and friends joining us for dinner that night, I knew the time had come to experiment with some blueberry bread pudding.
I have always loved bread pudding, and order it pretty much any time I see it on a dessert menu. I shared a very tasty blueberry bread pudding late one night on the Petit Robert Bistro patio earlier this summer, and haven’t been able to think of much else ever since. This was the dessert I set out to make this week with my treasured native Maine blueberries. This standout bread pudding of my memories (and my dreams?) was rich and tasted of summer. The pudding had been topped with cinnamon and sugar, and baked until a crispy top had formed, which was a great contrast to the soft bread pudding beneath.
I tinkered with a few bread pudding recipes and managed to come up with a winning recipe to share. The best news? This bread pudding template will be PERFECT for apples come September. As it turns out, I get really excited for apple season too. Surprise, surprise…
Blueberry Bread Pudding
Yields 8-10 servings
- 1 loaf of dense white bread, cubed (about 4-5 cups)
- 2 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 2 cups cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1 tablespoon raw (turbinado) sugar*
- 1 tablespoon butter, to coat the dish
- ¼ cup raw (turbinado) sugar*
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Gently heat the cream, milk, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed pot until it is just about to boil. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, mix together the eggs, vanilla and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon in a large bowl. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, stirring constantly so that the eggs don’t scramble. Add the cubed bread to the custard, toss together and put aside.
In another bowl, add a tablespoon of the raw sugar to the blueberries, and mash together so that there is mix of mashed and whole blueberries. Let the blueberries and the sugar sit for a few minutes, allowing juices to collect. Mix the blueberries into the pudding well, and put the whole thing in the refrigerator for at least an hour so that the bread can fully soak up the custard.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a large baking dish (mine was about 9 ½ inches round with tall 2 inch sides)** Pour the bread pudding mixture into the dish. Sprinkle the pudding with the cinnamon and sugar. Cover the pudding with foil and bake for 45 minutes, until the center is set. Remove the foil and cook for another 20 minutes. At the very end, put the pudding under the broiler for another 1-2 minutes to crisp up the top of the pudding. Let the pudding sit for at least a half hour before serving. Serve it up with vanilla ice cream, and you’ll be in heaven.
* If you only have regular white sugar, that’s fine. The raw sugar creates a better crunchy crust, but it is not a big enough difference to deter you from making this recipe!
** The pudding puffed up a great deal while baking, I would recommend using a large baking dish, and putting a baking sheet underneath to catch any wayward pudding or blueberries.
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