Monday, July 21, 2008

Baking 1960's style

As of late, the boyfriend and I have been obsessed with season one of Mad Men, which we've been watching on AMC On Demand. If you aren't watching this show, you should be. The story-lines are titillating, shocking, and relateable all at the same time, and the period accuracy in decor, wardrobe, and dialogue is as they'd say, "a scream."

So our recent 1960's fascination made it all the more exciting when our friends invited us over for dinner and a night of bridge. I had never played the game, nor had I really considered it an option for anyone under 75, but back in the gay days of 1960 when Mad Men is set, bridge would have been a typical excuse for couples to get together and socialize.

In an effort to play the good 1960s housewife, I decided I couldn't show up empty handed and a simple bread pudding would be the perfect accompaniment for an old school card game. As per usual I tapped my favorite recipe resource Food and Wine for the recipe, which I've pasted below

As seen in Food and Wine Magazine:

Jam and Bread Pudding

  • One 1-pound loaf challah bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons strawberry jam or preserves
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Arrange half of the challah in the dish; tear the slices to fit. Spread 3/4 cup of the jam on top; cover with the remaining challah.
  2. Whisk the eggs, sugar, 2 1/2 cups of the milk and the vanilla and pour over the challah; press to soak and brush with 4 tablespoons of the butter. Cover with foil and bake for 24 minutes, removing the foil halfway through, until the pudding is set; remove from the oven.
  3. Preheat the broiler. Blend the remaining 1 tablespoon of milk with the confectioners' sugar. Add the remaining butter and jam and stir until the glaze is smooth. Spread all but 1/4 cup of the glaze over the pudding and broil until the glaze is golden. Drizzle the bread pudding with the remaining glaze and serve.
Alas, in true 1960s housewife form, I am sharing my wheels with my man, and on this particular day, he had the car, so I was out of luck when I realized I didn't have all of the ingredients I needed. Instead of 2 1/2 cups of whole milk or half and half, I used 2 cups of a combination of 2% milk, heavy cream, and half and half. I also replaced the strawberry jam with half raspberry preserves and half raspberry no-sugar jam. Despite screwing around with the ingredients, the bread pudding still turned out delicious. With enough sugar, jam, and butter, I suppose anything will taste good even if you botch the ingredients.

I usually like to sample my cooking before I let anyone else do so, but there isn't a way to take a bite out of a bread pudding without anyone noticing, so I had to trust it would be tasty. If my friend's third serving of bread pudding was any indication, the jam and bread pudding was a hit!

It wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing dish, but it was moist and sweet without being cloying, and even days later, it still tastes delicious with a bit of whipped cream on top. Better yet, turns out bridge is pretty fun, too! Now if I could just get my hair into a perfect 1960s 'do, I'd be all set...



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