Restaurants throughout Memphis and the Delta have signature bread puddings. This one from the Woman's Exchange is exceptional, studded with golden raisins, laced with cinnamon, and topped with a luscious lemon custard sauce. This recipe is adapted from their cookbook, Tea Room Treasures and is featured in the new cookbook "Eat Drink Delta" by Susan Puckett. Visit Susan online at http://susan-puckett.squarespace.com.
Makes 8 servings
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 cups whole milk
6 to 8 slices firm white bread, crusts trimmed, torn into bite-size pieces (about 4 heaping cups)
½ cup golden raisins
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Lemon Cream Sauce
2 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
For the pudding: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place butter in a 2-quart ovenproof casserole and let melt in the oven. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in 1 ½ cups of the sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the milk. Fold in the bread, raisins, and vanilla. Pour into the prepared casserole. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar and the ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and sprinkle them over the top. Place the pudding in the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until the pudding is set, about 55 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce.*
For the sauce: In the top of a double boiler, beat the egg yolks with a wire whisk until thick. Gradually beat in the sugar. Whisk in the melted butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Place over the bottom of the boiler filled less than half full of simmering water. Cook the mixture, whisking continuously, until it thickens slightly, 5 to 7 minutes. Let the sauce cool to room temperature and then fold in the whipped cream. Cover and chill until ready to serve over the warm bread pudding.
*You can choose to use lemon curd in a jar instead of making your own. Just fold the whipped cream in as the recipe describes.