Is this dessert or a brunch dish? You decide. Panettone is an Italian fruit bread – rich, sweet and eggy with the addition of raisins and candied fruit. Here, the bread is cubed and combined with rich custard and baked in a water bath. This keeps the center moist and creamy while the top develops a bit of a crust – the textural contrasts add to the enjoyment of the dish. The sauce is optional, but it makes the bread pudding a bit fancier. It must be made right before serving, as it does not keep. Prep the sauce ingredients, take the pudding out of the oven, make the sauce and then serve.
Image: Peter Muka
- 1 loaf of panettone bread (1 to 1.25 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- ½ cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur
- For the Pudding: Position oven racks in lower and upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13-inch by 9-inch baking pan with nonstick spray; set aside.
- Scatter cubes of bread on two rimmed baking sheet pans and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or just until cubes begin to develop a bit of a dry crust. They most likely will not brown; that’s okay. Place cubes in prepared pan.
- Whisk together the eggs, yolks, cream, milk, sugar, Grand Marnier and vanilla. Pour this mixture evenly over bread cubes and let sit for 10 minutes to begin absorbing the custard.
- Place pan in a larger pan and fill that pan halfway with hot tap water to create a water bath (LINK). Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or until custard is just set. Cool pan on rack while you make sauce, if using.
- For the Sauce: Whisk together the egg and sugar in the top of a double boiler. Set over simmering water and continue whisking until warmed and creamy, about 2 minutes. Drizzle in the melted butter, slowly until combined, whisking continuously. Whisk in the Grand Marnier until light and fluffy, about another 2 minutes. Use immediately.
- Scoop out portions of warm or room-temperature bread pudding onto serving dishes and top with some of the warm sauce, pooling some around the pudding as well.
- Panettone tends to show up in stores around the winter holidays – in specialty stores as well as supermarkets. Look for boxes that contain the tall, cylindrical loaf. (It’s great for French toast, too by the way).
- Grand Marnier has an orange flavor that complements the sweet bread containing bits of orange peel, but feel free to try Amaretto, rum or bourbon.