Right now, in my life, there are peaches everywhere.
There is also stale bread in my life, always and forever.
I have a love/hate relationship with stale bread. There’s so much to do with it! Breadcrumbs! Bread soup! Croutons! But it’s just that… there’s this never-ending supply. We get a baguette every morning and finish about half of it. Consequently, there are usually two or three half-baguettes in various stages of staleness strewn about my kitchen, making me feel guilty and wasteful if I don’t think of something to do with them. A girl only needs so many containers of bread crumbs in her life.
Same thing with peaches, sort of. They’re so cheap and abundant and beautifully fragrant at the greenmarket that I buy way too many, then only eat half. The rest sit there in my fruit basket, looking depleted and sad and disappointed in me, there among the lemons and apples.
So, what to do with ingredients that are past their best? Bake them in eggs and cream, of course. Then smother them in bourbon.
Back when I was working at a law office in Westwood, there was this restaurant called Palomino right across the street. It was always crowded with a strange mixture of suits and college kids, had terrible service, and the food wasn’t great — but hey, $5 happy hour drinks and pizzas! The attorneys and assistants would go there for lunch or after-work drinks all the time, and my friend Jaz’min would often get the pear bread pudding, which was overpriced, but sometimes cream and butter and carbs were necessary after stressful days at the office.
So, Jazzy, here’s one for you. I may not be the head of the Firm Social Committee anymore, but I can still toast a lemon drop at you from across the ocean, eat bread pudding, and think good thoughts for you.
Peach Bread Pudding
Makes two servings.
1/2 stale baguette
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
about 3 teaspoons butter
Heat your oven to 350° F.
Cut the baguette into 1 cm slices, then quarter each slice. Peel the peaches and chop into largish pieces — about 1 cm cubed. Toss the bread and peaches together.
In a bowl or large liquid measuring cup, combine the egg yolks, egg, cream, milk, brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and cinnamon. Whisk until completely combined.
Thoroughly butter two ramekins. Spoon the bread and peach mixture into the ramekins, pressing lightly so that it all gets lightly compacted in there. It’s okay to mound it on a bit, too.
Carefully pour a little bit of the egg mixture onto the bread mixture in the ramekins. You want to go slowly to thoroughly soak the top layer of bread, then continue pouring evenly over everything so that the lower levels get soaked. Continue pouring until you see the egg mixture come to the lip of the ramekin, or until you run out.
Take your remaining butter and scatter it in bits over the bread, then sprinkle the last tablespoon of sugar over everything.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the tops are a lovely golden brown and the bread pudding barely wiggles when shaken. Serve warm or at room temperature with bourbon cream sauce (below).
If you like, you can do this in an 8″x8″ pan instead of ramekins. You’ll get more of the crunchy top and less of the custardy creamy part that way.
Bourbon Cream Sauce
Makes about 1/3 cup.
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey
Combine cream, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan and place on low heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce has reduced and thickened.
Remove saucepan from heat and add bourbon. Return to heat for a few more minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into a cup or jar and refrigerate until completely chilled. Drizzle over bread pudding and eat immediately.
Music to cook by: Red Right Ankle [The Decemberists // Her Majesty The Decemberists]