Happy weekend-after-Thanksgiving! I hope you’re all lolling around in food comas, surrounded by Black Friday detritus and eating abominable turkey-stuffing-green bean-pumpkin pie sandwich creations.
Me? I’m doing all of the above, and finishing it off with a bit of cranberry orange bread pudding, made with leftover Thanksgiving rolls and cranberry sauce. Three cheers for holiday excess!
If you want to get in on this action, you’ll need some stale rolls, leftover cranberry sauce, and the patience to get back in your kitchen and cook one more thing.
Our tradition is to have orange rolls at Thanksgiving, so it seemed natural to pair the rolls and cranberry sauce with even more orange flavor. I had candied orange peel in the house so I added that, but you can always replace it with lots of orange zest in the custard, or omit the orange entirely and just enjoy cranberry bread pudding.
This recipe works best with homemade cranberry sauce, the type with a thick jam consistency and lots of whole berries…but I’m sure it would also be tasty with the canned stuff, or even a handful of dried cranberries tossed in! The point is bread, lots of it, soaked in sugar and cream and eggs and sprinkled with pockets of deliciousness. How you choose to get there is entirely up to you.
Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding
yield: 4 individual ramekins
12 ounces old rolls (for me this was about 10 large rolls)
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
Zest of one large orange
3-1/2 ounces (about 1/2 cup chopped) candied orange peel, optional
1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce, preferably homemade
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts, like pecans or hazelnuts (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Cut the rolls into 1-inch cubes. Scatter them on a baking sheet, and bake them for 10-15 minutes at 350 F until toasted a light golden brown color. Let cool, then place them in a large bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and the cream and place it over medium heat. While it heats, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and orange zest in a large bowl.
When the cream reaches a simmer, remove the pan from the heat. Slowly stream the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, to gradually warm up the eggs and prevent them from curdling.
Pour the hot custard over the bread cubes in the bowl. Let them sit and soak and absorb the moisture, turning them occasionally to make sure the bread at the top gets equally soaked. The length of the soak will depend on how dry your bread is, but in general it should take about 20 minutes. Stop when the bread is soft throughout but has not yet started to disintegrate.
Chop the candied orange peel, if using, and add it to the bread in the bowl, along with the cranberry sauce and the chopped nuts, if using. Use your hands to toss everything together until the mix-ins are well distributed.
Scoop handfuls of the bread pudding mixture into individual ramekins. I prefer to grab handfuls instead of pour, so that I have more bread than pudding in my ramekins—but you can also just pour it from the bowl if you like! The mix-ins have a tendency to sink to the bottom so be sure you’re grabbing from the bottom of the bowl as well.
Place the ramekins in a 9×13 pan and fill the pan with hot water until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the top of the pan tightly with foil. Bake the bread puddings at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for another 15 minutes, until golden and crispy on top.
Remove the pan from the oven, and with a spatula, carefully remove the ramekins from the pan and set them on a wire rack to cool. Serve bread puddings warm or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream.