Happy Mother’s day, everyone! Today was such a lovely day, and I am grateful to have such a fantastic mom.
When I asked my mom what she wanted for mother’s day she was very clear in her wishes. She only asked for two things: she wanted her kids (and significant others) to make her brunch and she wanted us to help work on the house and yard (as my parents are putting their house on the market).
I was in charge of the brunch menu, and despite my pleading, my mom indicated that she really wanted a sweet brunch. I’ve been in a decidedly savory brunch phase lately, and so I had to do some thinking. But then I thought about the brunch spot down the street from Nich and I’s house that serves a bread pudding french toast with a mint and bourbon syrup. It is to die for. It is one of those brunch items that can turn a savory brunch eater into a sweet brunch eater (because, lets be honest: there are two types of brunch eaters. the two rarely mix). Plus, my mom loves bread pudding more than any person I know. So, french toast bread pudding was a mother’s day brunch must-have.
After perusing a few recipes, I settled on one from the Food Network. I think it was the addition of spiced pears (or what I would call a pear compote) that sold me on this recipe. In any case, this recipe requires very little prep work (rip some bread, put it in a pan, pour and egg and milk mix over it and let it sit over night. tada!) and yet it tastes like a little piece of french toast heaven. In addition to the spiced pears, I also made from fresh whipped cream (with vanilla and muscavado sugar) which was a great decision (and who counts calories for mother’s day brunch? or ever, really?).
So, here is the recipe (with my twists, because I can never just leave a recipe be.)
French Toast Bread Pudding with Spiced Pears
Adapted from the Food Network
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 loaf (about 1 pound) challah or brioche, or any soft, egg-enriched bread (I used Challah and it was amazing)
6 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar (I didn’t actually include sugar in the egg mix, I totally forgot it! However, I dont actually think it needed it as the Challah bread is already sweet. Instead, I sprinkled dark brown sugar over the top of the french toast right before I baked it).
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter
2 firm-ripe pears, cored and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Nutmeg, to taste
The night before, make the French toast: smear the butter over the bottom and sides of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish or other shallow 2-quart baking dish. Tear the bread into small pieces and scatter in the dish.
In a large measuring cup or small bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until light. Add the milk and vanilla and whisk well. Pour over the bread evenly. Tamp down the bread with a spoon or spatula to submerge each piece in egg mixture. Cover with foil, gently pressing down so the foil is right on the surface of the mixture. Refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, remove the dish and slide it into a cold oven with the foil on. Turn oven on to 350 degrees F. After 25 minutes, gently pull off and discard the foil. Continue to bake until pudding is puffed and golden brown, about 20 more minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the spiced pears: melt butter in a wide frying pan (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat then add the pears. Stir until pears are coated well with butter, then sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, and a good pinch of fresh nutmeg; continue to cook until pears soften.
To serve, spoon bread pudding onto plates and top with spiced pears (and whipped cream, if you so desire). Can also be served with maple syrup.