2009 Herb of the Year: Bay-Infused Bread Pudding with Decadent, Easy Rum Sauce

| February/March 2009

Serves 8

This simple, flavorful dessert is a great way to use up leftover bread; challah and cinnamon bread make a tasty bread pudding. Those who like currants or raisins in bread pudding can add a large handful (about 1⁄4 cup) and stir them into the warm milk with the sugar and spices. The rum sauce isn’t absolutely necessary, but it sure is good! 

• 3 cups milk
• 3 fresh bay leaves
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 6 cups day-old French baguette (I use sourdough), cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
• 3⁄4 cup sugar
• Zest of 1 small lemon
• 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Scald milk with bay leaves; remove from heat. Stir butter into hot milk so it melts, cover and let cool.

3. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and cover bottom with bread.

4. Stir sugar, lemon zest and nutmeg into warm milk. Add beaten eggs and vanilla and whisk to combine.

5. Pour milk and egg mixture over bread and let stand for 15 minutes so bread absorbs some liquid.

6. Place baking dish in larger pan and fill pan with hot water to halfway up the side of the dish. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the custard just sets up.

7. Remove bread pudding from the hot water and let it cool on a rack. The dish can be served warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate after it has cooled to room temperature.

Decadent, Easy Rum Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

If you don’t have vanilla sugar, use regular sugar and add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract along with the rum. This sauce is very rich, so a little goes a long way.

• 1 cup whipping cream
• 3 bay leaves
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 1⁄2 cup vanilla sugar
• 3 tablespoons dark rum

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