When a friend grants you with a bit of a generosity via a food gift – you don’t question it. You revel in it, drown yourself in, dance with it, and most definitely eat it.
Food gifts, very much like gifts of clothes, requires a certain amount of confidence and insight from that particular friend. For the most part, food gifts convey that your friend knows your tastes, your loves, and what you abhor. One of my favorite friends, Quinn (most affectionately know by me as Quinnly), came back from a business trip in Texas and told me that he had a present for me.
“I got you rye bread from this awesome Jewish bakery in Dallas!”
“NO WAY. HOW…HOW DID YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE RYE BREAD?”
“…who else would be this outspoken about rye bread?”
He knows me well. Indeed, I am obsessive about rye bread. If rye bread in an option at a sandwich shop, I will shout and hop about with joy. Furthermore – how nice of him was it to think of me while he was on a business trip? I am constantly amazed at the generosity that I am surrounded with.
I was incredibly excited and grateful for this new loaf of rye bread and couldn’t wait to devour it. But – as life does, I got busy and was beginning to run short on time with the bread. Fresh bread has an incredibly short shelf life and my loaf was already beginning to harden. I was almost resolved to let it spoil but then I realized – bread pudding. BREAD PUDDING. BREAD PUDDING IS ALWAYS THE ANSWER.
I was curious to see how rye bread would fare in a dessert dish. I had only had rye bread in savory settings but I imagined that the caraway aromas and the heartiness of the bread would pair well with a bit of bourbon and a heavy application of spices. Plus – bourbon makes everything better! Duh.
In the end, the bread pudding – made with rye bread, laced with bourbon-soaked dried fruits, and doused in cinnamon and coconut sugar – made my week. The bread was soft and drowned in custard, the top was burnished and brimming with browned sugar and walnuts and the cinnamon and caraway paired with the subtle sweetness of the dried fruits made the most incredible flavor baby. Yes, a flavor baby. Born out of true, food love.
If you’re looking for something new, interesting, and a show stopper – you’ve got it all right here.
Bourbon Soaked Spiced Rye Bread Pudding
- 5 cups of cubed rye bread
- 3 1/2 cups of unsweetened almond milk or soy milk
- 2 tsps of pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 cup dried sultana raisins
- 1/4 cup of dried apricots, chopped roughly
- 1/4 cup of dried medjool dates, chopped roughly
- 1/2 cup of bourbon
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp of corn starch
- 3/4 cup of water
- 5 tblsp of vegan butter ( I use Earth Balance)
- 1 cup of coconut sugar (or 3/4 cup of brown sugar) (and 2 tbsp for sprinkling on top)
- 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 375 F. Pour bourbon into a microwave-safe medium bowl and heat for two and a half minutes until very warm. Once bourbon is warm, pour all of your dried fruits into the bowl and set aside.
- For The Custard: In a medium sauce-pan, heat your milk on medium -high until very hot and simmering. Once the milk is hot, lower the heat to medium-low and stir in your coconut sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. In a small bowl, stir the corn starch together with the 3/4 cup of water until combined. Pour cornstarch mixture into the simmering milk and bring to a boil – stirring constantly. Once the milk mixture is at a boil, lower heat back down to medium and let the mixture thicken until it coats the back of a spoon.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix your cubes of bread, your bourbon-soaked fruits, and your hot custard. Mix with a wooden spoon and press down so that all the bread has a chance to soak in the custard. Let the bread soak for at least 15-20 minutes.
- Pour the bread pudding into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish and sprinkle the top with coconut sugar and chopped walnuts. Bake for 45 mins – 1 hr. The pudding will be done when the edges and tops are browned and there is a slight wobble in the middle. Take out of the oven and let it cool before slicing. Serve with ALL OF THE ICE CREAM.