French Toast Bread Pudding  for Chris Santos Cookbook 2016

“I have a lot of nostalgia for early childhood food experiences and especially love it when a dish “takes me back” to my childhood. One particularly fond memory is of when, occasionally as a treat, I would come home to find my mom announcing we were having “breakfast for dinner.” For some reason it felt like we were breaking the rules, enjoying French toast with sweet pure maple syrup and bacon and breakfast sausage all with extra butter. Thank you very much. So as an adult, and as a chef , I do try to re-create those experiences, and I think this “adult” French toast bread pudding does just that.” Chris Santos


Makes 8-10 servings

Soaking bread in custard makes the best French toast, so it made perfect sense to transform everyone’s favorite breakfast into a communal confection. There are zillions of bread pudding recipes, but this one has a perfect proportion of bread to custard, and the pumpkin maple syrup makes this a near perfect brunch dish.


½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (see note)

Soft butter, for the baking dish
5 large eggs
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 cups (1-inch) cubes rich bread, such as challah or brioche loaf, preferably slightly stale, about 10 ounces

1 cup pure maple syrup
2∕3 cup solid-pack pumpkin puree
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (see note)

1. To make the crème fraîche: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least one hour. (If you have the time, refrigerate the crème fraîche mixture overnight. Let stand at room temperature for one hour before serving.)

2. To make the bread pudding: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Have ready a large roasting pan to hold the baking dish.

3. Whisk the eggs and sugar well in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream, milk and cinnamon. Add the bread cubes and mix well. Let stand five minutes for the bread to soak up some of the liquid. Pour into the baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.

4. Place the baking dish in the roasting pan. Put the pan on the oven rack, and carefully pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about ½ inch up the sides of the dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the pudding is barely browned and feels set when pressed gently in the center, about 30 minutes more. Remove from the roasting pan and let stand for five minutes.

5. Meanwhile, make the syrup: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

6. Spoon the pudding into individual bowls and top with dollops of the spiced crème fraîche. Serve immediately, with the warm pumpkin syrup passed on the side.

Note: If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice, mix 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and a large pinch of ground cloves.

Excerpted from the book “Share” by Chris Santos. Copyright © 2017 by Chris Santos. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.


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