After surviving the Apple Caramel Charlotte a couple weeks ago I thought I would be fine with anything until I saw this recipe. I had never made bread pudding or yeast bread before. I bought the Bread Bible earlier this year, and I planned to make bread but had been too intimidated to give it a try. I thought about just buying the brioche, but I really felt like I should go all out on this challenge. I knew I needed to start the bread early, but last week was really busy so there wasn't any time during the week. Then around the end of the week I found out my cake classes that I was planning to take on Saturday had been cancelled so I hoped that would give me enough time to make the bread.
So, Saturday afternoon I got started. After reading Marie's post about wishing she had doubled the bread recipe I decided to double mine. The plan was for me to get to the point where there were only a couple steps left to do with the bread Sunday morning. Whisking the sponge and then mixing the rest of the ingredients together with the dough hook (it's first use in the seven years I've had the mixer):
I got the dough to the point where it was ready to sit out at room temperature and rise prior to going to dinner. One of my coworkers told me the trick to making bread around here was to make sure the room is warm enough for the bread to rise since most people have the A/C set pretty cold. She told me one trick was to put a warm pan of water below the dough but not touching it. Well, I don't think my dough had any problems rising:
Next step was to roll out the dough and fold the dough like a business letter. Then it went back in the fridge.
The next morning after getting my weekly grocery trip out of the way I rolled out the dough again and got it ready for the final rise in the pans. While it rose my husband and I took our dog to a nearby trail for a long walk. And, it once again rose more than expected in that short time. But, I hoped it wouldn't be a problem. I cut a slit across the top and brushed the loafs with an egg glaze and stuck them in the oven. The kitchen smelled so good while they were baking. They looked really good when I took them out, and I had to resist the temptation to cut into them too early.
After letting the bread sit for 2 hours it was finally time to start on the actual cake. Now it was 3:00 and I was starting to question whether I was actually going to finish this. I had originally planned for my mom to come over for dessert, but I just didn't think I would be done at a decent time. Of course, I went for the quickest option for drying the bread cubes - in the oven at 200 degrees for an hour.
After that it was time to make the creme anglaise which was very straight forward. Then the bread cubes are soaked in the cream.
The bread cubes had to soak for at least 2 hours so while they soaked I cooked and ate dinner and then got started on the first caramel. I actually managed to get my thermometer attached to the pan correctly and the color looked good to me. It stayed liquid until after I poured it in the custard cups, and then it was hard as a rock. I figured that it would be fine once the pudding cakes cooked, but as everyone else found out that didn't happen. It stayed stuck to the custard cups.
The next step was to roast the pineapple, but first I had to peel, slice, and core it. I had never done that before, and I almost bought some already peeled and cored at the grocery store but decided I could figure it out. That's what the internet is for. I found this great video.
The roasting syrup for the pineapple gave me problems. First it just wouldn't caramelize like it should have. I think it might have burnt a tiny bit, but I was so ready to be done that I continued on. I put the pineapple in and finally got it in the over. The directions said to baste every 5 minutes until it was tender and the juices thickened to a sauce. I sat down at the breakfast table next to the oven so I could watch my Sunday evening shows and baste the pineapple. I kept wondering about how long this should take because it seemed to be taking forever, and each time I opened the oven I was just hoping it would be done. Finally once it was done I took the pan out and instead of waiting for the pineapple to cool in the pan I moved it to the cutting board to cool quicker and slice.
I finally made it to the last step, and it was now after 10pm. I was just ready to go to bed. I had already told my mom she could come over Monday for dessert, but I need to finish this and wanted to try it before going to bed myself. I arranged the pineapple in each dish and put the bread cubes on top. The directions said to drain any cream not absorbed by the bread cubes, but there was nothing left for me to drain so I just skipped that step. The bread puddings have to cook in a roasting pan with a boiling water bath, and that ended up being a pain because my pan was huge and needed more water than my kettle could boil at once. Eventually I managed to get them in the oven.
After 40 minutes of cooking they were done, and it was finally time to unmold one of the puddings to taste. Fortunately I had already read that others were having problems with the caramel so I didn't try to force it to cooperate too hard. The first one I plated didn't look the great because I did put the ugly caramel on top, but then one of the ones I plated tonight looked really good (the first picture).
My mom came over tonight and really liked the bread pudding part but wasn't wild about the pineapple, but she isn't a pineapple person. I thought they were pretty good, but I'm not a huge fan of bread pudding. My husband didn't like them, but he really dislikes bread pudding or anything with wet bread. I probably won't make these again, but I will definitely make the bread again. This helped me get over my fear of working with yeast breads.