I never really bake because I’m not a big fan of desserts. When I tell my friends who love to bake that I am a better cook because I can just throw ingredients in a pot and make a nice dish out of it, they tell me the same thing–that they throw eveything in a bowl and bake. I honestly think baking requires more skill and patience. I can chop vegetables until my hands are numb so I can make my own Vietnamese summer rolls and I enjoy braising and waiting for my beef bourguignon to come out of the oven, but I have no patience to wait for anything to turn golden brown. If I need more than my finger to poke and see if it’s cooked inside, then I don’t want it.
I bought a loaf of ciabatta bread the other day to make some pizzetta for dinner and ended up only using less than half of it. I didn’t want it to go to waste so I picked up a quart of heavy cream the next day and actually baked pudding when I got home. Sure enough, it took a few TV shows before they were the color I imagined the top of pudding should be, but they actually came out perfectly. I used a 12-muffin tray and topped them with caramel sauce and packed them for sweet-toothed co-workers the next morning.
1 big loaf of day-old bread
3 egg yolks
1 cup maple syrup
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 tbsps butter
1. Prepare everything before baking. Preheat oven to 300Âº. Grease muffin tray with melted butter. Set aside. Slice and break bread into small pieces and fill each muffin hole.
2. In a large glass bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks. Add 3/4 cup of the maple syrup, 1 cup of the heavy cream with the milk and vanilla. Pour this mixture into each muffin hole with the bread, enough to make sure they are swimming.
3. Fill a deep baking tray with about 2 inches of water. Place the muffin tray in the baking tray and bake until golden brown, about 1 hour. If necessary, gently flip each muffin with a spatula and cook the bottom of the muffins until they are also lightly browned.
4. During the last 30 minutes of baking, make the caramel sauce. In a small non-stick pan, heat the remaining maple syrup and whisk in the other cup of cream until thickened. Add the butter and a pinch of salt and keep whisking in low heat until caramelized.
5. When ready to serve, place muffins on a plate and pour caramel sauce on top.