Being on leave definitely has its pros. I’m going to ignore the cons, which include the following pre-reqs: nine months of pregnancy, labor and delivery, postpartum and the fourth trimester. The fourth trimester is where you try to lose the weight it took nine months to gain, all in six weeks. And then you realize you’re going to need well over twelve weeks to remove all the fat and shifting from your hips. Speaking of which, I weighed 164.5 pounds the day Miss C was born, and I’m down to 142. Next week I get the clear to exercise. I’m contemplating getting INSANITY. Have you tried it, or know anyone who lived after trying it?
So, as I was saying, the benefit of maternity leave is that after you’ve cleaned the house, and the baby is napping, and you still have energy left, you get bored and decide it’s time to cook a delicious recipe you remember from a couple’s cooking class you took last year. I called the company that hosted the cooking class, and the chef walked me through the entire recipe. The awesome thing about this dish is that if you’re like me and hate bread pudding, trust me, you’ll love this version. Oh, and did I mentioned that my mother-in-law has been staying with us… and that she’s awesome? She dresses and walks Gadget to school in the morning and picks him up in the afternoon. She does the laundry, and puts up the clean dishes, AND bathes the boys. This is why I am sane enough to try cooking desserts from scratch in the middle of the day. In fact, tomorrow I’m going to practice brining a turkey breast. Never thought I would ever type those words.
Onto the bread pudding…
Ingredients: Brioche bread, sugar, water, heavy cream, eggs, unsalted butter, one lemon, craisins, vanilla bean and star anise.
Cube the brioche bread and place on a baking sheet.
Melt the unsalted butter and cover the bread. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees on the lowest oven rack.
Begin simmering heavy cream, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla bean paste and star anise is a pot. While this is on, you can make the caramel. Make simple syrup with one and a half cups of water and one cup of sugar. Bring to a boil and leave boiling until it turns a light amber color. Reduce the heat and pour in one half pint of heavy cream while whisking. Continue to reduce until thick and creamy.
Once the cream mixture in the pot has soaked up all the yummy goodness from the lemon zest and vanilla (takes about 30 minutes), strain it to remove the zest pieces and seeds.
Place the bread crumbs and craisins inside cute little ramekins (or cheap oven-safe containers from Wal-Mart). Pour the caramel sauce over the bread. Mix six egg yolks (the yellow part) into the strained cream mixture, and then add that to the ramekins. Push the bread crumbs down into the cream mixture so that they can soak it all up properly.
This next step is the most important. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet with a lip, and make a water bath. Without this step, the cream mixture will turn into an omelet. Bake for 30 minutes at 325 and then sprinkle with powdered sugar. Yum.