Chef Dez Cooking in Langley: Try cranberries

Thanksgiving dinner

Pumpkin pie is a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, but many options are just as seasonal. One of my favourites is cranberry bread pudding.

Bread puddings usually utilize leftover, stale bread, but I prefer to use a fresh loaf of French bread and toast it in the oven, instead. The results are far superior.

When it first comes from the oven it will be puffed up and beautiful, but don’t be alarmed to see it shrink down as it cools. That is normal.

For serving, a premium vanilla bean ice cream is a wonderful addition.

Cranberry Bread Pudding

A combination of both fresh and dried cranberries makes for a flavourful and more complex cranberry taste.

1 – 454g (1 pound) French loaf

4 large eggs, beaten

1¼ cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

Zest from 2 lemons, finely chopped

2 cups 10% MF cream (half and half)

2 cups milk (2% MF or 3.5%Homogenized)

¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries

¾ cup cranberries (fresh or frozen), halved

Vanilla bean ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Tear the French bread into one- to two-inch chunks and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, tossing the pieces around about halfway through. Remove from the oven and let sit while you prepare the rest of the pudding.

Decrease the oven temperature to 350ºF and butter a 9×13 baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and the zest thoroughly. Whisk in the cream and milk. Add the toasted bread pieces and the dried cranberries and toss together thoroughly with your hands. Let sit for 10 minutes for the bread pieces to absorb the fluid.

Put one half of the custard-soaked bread mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with half of the fresh/frozen halved cranberries. Add the remaining bread mixture (and scrape all liquid from the bowl) to the dish, and top with the remaining fresh/frozen halved cranberries.

Bake for about 1 hour until the top browns and puffs up. An inserted butter knife should come out clean.

Let sit for at least 10 to 15 minutes before serving warm with vanilla bean ice cream.

Makes 10 to 12 portions

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