by Francesca Patterson

It has hit the time of summer where people are divided about the season that’s approaching. For some, labor day and the fall can’t arrive fast enough. The inevitable promise of cooler temperatures and the smell of apples are getting them through the last couple of weeks. For others, like me, we are relishing in every last bit of this ruthlessly hot but delightfully sweet summer. The heat has now brought us to peak stone fruit season. All the peaches and nectarines I have eaten this week have been perfectly juicy and tart, the kind that drips on your shirt as soon as you bite into it. They are just so good, and such a great daily pick-me-up, that I am afraid I am becoming dependent on them. I bring them home and have been cutting them up for my breakfast, cooking them into my dinners (refer to my Peachy Balsamic Chicken recipe), and enhancing my favorite desserts with their flavor. 
 
A couple of days ago I went out with my friends craving something sweet and discovered bread pudding for the first time. I thought this dessert was going to be something similar to rice pudding but to my amazement, it is more like a soft bread cobbler or cake! I enjoyed it so much I decided to make it myself with my current favorites. 
I wanted to create this recipe with the ripest options that the market had to offer that day. I ended up with about one of each stone fruit. One yellow nectarine, one white peach, one yellow peach, a plum, and a pluot. If I had been lucky enough to find a rare late-summer pint of blackberries, that would have been a great addition too. Bread pudding tastes the best with a kind of bread that is high in fat from butter (croissants, brioche, challah). I chose to go with croissants from my local bakery. I allowed them to sit out for a day in order to dry them out. You don’t want the bread to be too soft or it could get too soggy with the milk mixture and will not hold up as well. This is now a dish that I will turn to when I want a pleasing but easy dessert to make with my leftover fruits. Try it with any combination of add ons that you like and enjoy it for breakfast or after dinner! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-3/4 cup of whole milk
  • 1/2 cup of half&half 
  • 3 tbsp of butter 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
  • 1/4 cup of rum 
  • 5-6 ripe stone fruit and berries of your choice (peeled, pit removed, cut into segments and then halved) 
  • 3 large eggs (beaten) 
  • 8 croissants or 1/2 loaf of brioche (preferably day old, chopped into even pieces) 

DIRECTIONS

*If your bread is not day old, you can dry it out on a baking sheet. Chop and place in the oven at 200 degrees for about an hour or until the bread is dry and crispy.* 
 
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Place the first 8 ingredients (whole milk, half&half, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, and rum) in a large saucepan. Whisk these together until just heated and the brown sugar has dissolved. Do not allow milk to boil. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, place the chopped up bread. Pour in the milk mixture, a small amount at a time, and mix until all the bread is evenly coated. 
  4. Add chopped fruit and beaten eggs. Fold all of this together until evenly distributed. 
  5. Transfer this mixture into a small and lightly greased baking pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top has become golden brown. Wait about 10 minutes before serving. This tastes great with whipped cream or ice cream. 

As an extra step: melt about 2 tbsp butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon with a few slices of your fruit on a skillet. Allow the fruit to cook for about 5 minutes or until juices have released. Pour this butter and fruit juice mixture on top of bread pudding when serving