I can't help it, I love Ina Garten. She makes everything look so easy and do-able and plus her kitchen is perfect. Are those sun lamps beneath her cabinets, feeding those pots of rosemary and thyme? Knowing Ina, they probably are. Fabulous.
One thing I've never loved, however, is bread pudding. Oh I'm not sure why, I guess I figure if I'm going to eat pudding it ought to be something smooth and sinful like dark chocolate pudding or homemade butterscotch; that's the kind of pudding person I am. Plus bread pudding isn't really pudding, at least according to how I know it. It's usually been more akin to soggy custard bread in a bowl, and who wants to eat that? I mean really.
But then Ina made her Croissant Bread Pudding one fateful Barefoot Contessa episode, and I was sold. I knew I had to try it. It seemed easy enough and as it turns out, it was. My daughter helped me the whole time, gleefully stacking the croissants and then adding the raisins and pouring the custard. We waited anxiously as it cooked, and when the timer rang we couldn't wait to pull it out of the oven.
And it looked wonderful! And the smell? The smell was even better. The pudding was golden brown and a little crispy on top, and we couldn't wait to dive into it. The verdict? Well, my daughter loved it, but me? Alas, and I hate to say this, but I'm still not a bread pudding fan. BUT THAT'S ME. If someone loves bread pudding, then by all means, try this recipe as I'm sure you'll love it. I might sweeten it a bit more if I were to make it again (which I won't), but all in all, I think it came out just as Ina intended it. My grade: B
Croissant Bread Pudding
3 extra-large whole eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 croissants, preferably stale, sliced horizontally
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the raisins, then the tops of the croissants (brown side up), being sure the raisins are between the layers of croissants or they will burn while baking. Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.
Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 8 to 10