Eggnog Bread Pudding

Eggnog Bread Pudding 2

So, I apologize in advance dear readers. I made this last week, and couldn’t find the time to post about it until now. I love eggnog, and I always have. It’s sweet, creamy, and the spices just make me feel warm and cozy – it is always the one element that lets me know that Christmas is coming.

For years, I grew up drinking eggnog and milk, usually about half and half, and my parents would experiment with baking with eggnog. Since I have moved out of the house, I haven’t splurged on eggnog nearly as much as I did when I was younger, but when I do, I always try to bake something with eggnog. Eggnog cheesecake? Been there. I decided to try eggnog bread pudding with the leftover loaf of bread from my last post. Paul and I don’t eat insane amounts of bread, and we had forgotten to freeze the remaining loaf, so it was slightly stale – perfect for bread pudding.

While the original recipe is for a breakfast bread pudding, I made it as a dessert one night and it was still just as fabulous as promised. In my opinion, bread pudding is equally delicious as breakfast or dessert. It is not usually too sweet, so it makes the perfect option after a luxurious meal, or after rolling out of bed.

Eggnog Bread Pudding 3

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 x 13 pan

1 12oz. loaf cubed bread
3 c. eggnog
2 c. milk (a higher fat content like 2% or whole milk makes a richer custard)
5 large eggs
4 egg yolks
1 c. sugar
Pinch salt
2 tbsp. spiced rum or 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pile bread into a 9 x 13 inch pan, and spread out evenly. In a large saucepan, heat the eggnog and milk over medium heat until bubbling gently but not boiling.

Combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk vigorously until light and frothy. Temper the eggs by whisking one cup of the eggnog mixture into the eggs to warm them. Gradually whisk in the remaining eggnog mixture and the rum or vanilla.

Pour the custard over the bread cubes, and gently mash down with your hands to make sure all of the bread gets saturated. Set aside for at least one hour, or chill overnight if you are making this for breakfast for the next day.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the casserole dish inside of a large roasting pan and transfer to the oven. Carefully pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, so that it comes halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

Bake for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, until the custard is set and the top is light golden brown. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, then carefully lift the casserole dish out of the water. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with warm maple syrup.

Eggnog Bread Pudding 1

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White Bread

White Bread 4

For the past couple of days, it’s been snowing. Now, I have been living in Southern Alberta since I was six, which, coincidentally, is most of my life. I love Alberta. The Alberta beef, the prairies, the small towns and big cities, the Alberta beef, the people, the beautiful blue skies, the bright yellow canola fields in the summer, the Alberta beef… wait, where was I? In case you can’t tell, I am a die-hard Alberta beef fan. However, whenever winter hits, I find myself longing for Vancouver Island. I only had a few winters there, but they were definitely milder ones than we experience in Southern Alberta. The winters on the island are more wet and less cold. That’s why I never mind when it’s raining. It always seemed to be raining on the island.

However, I digress. As soon as the first snowfall – correction, the first serious snowfall hits, all I want to do is curl up on the couch with a blanket, a cup of tea, and either a good book or a good movie. Lately, whenever I get cold, all I want to do is bake. There’s nothing that warms me up more than a warm and cozy kitchen with the smell of fresh baked bread.

White Bread 2

I do have a breadmaker, courtesy of Paul, but every once in a while I feel the need to, well… knead! I got this recipe from the ever-fabulous Annie’s Eats, and since she has dubbed it “The Best White Bread”, I felt it was time to give it a go. This bread was extremely good. I ate this bread as a toasted bacon sandwich, and it was so, so good. If you need a new recipe for white bread, try this one out.

White Bread 3

Ingredients

Yield: 2 9-inch loaves

4½ tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
¾ c. plus 2 2/3 c. warm water, divided (105-115°F)
¼ c. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
3 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
9-10 c. flour

3-4 tbsp. butter, melted for brushing

To make the dough, dissolve the yeast in ¾c. of warm water in the bowl of a mixer with the dough hook attachment. Stir in the sugar, salt, remaining water, butter, and 5 cups of flour. Mix on low speed until the dough begins to come together. Gradually add in the remaining 4-5 cups of flour, about 1 cup at a time, more gradually with the last cup, until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky, but not sticky. Continue to knead about 6-8 minutes, until a smooth ball of dough has formed.

As a side note, it only took me 9 cups of flour, not 10. The dough started to engulf my dough hook, so I actually had to finish mixing the dough by turning it out onto a large wooden cutting board and kneading it the rest of the way until it was done.

Transfer the dough to a large, lightly greased bowl and turn once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until the dough has nearly doubled in bulk, about 60-90 minutes. When my house is as cold as it is in winter, I will preheat the oven to 200° F, then as soon as the oven is heated, turn the oven off again and place the dough in the warm oven to rise.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently punch down to deflate the dough. Divide into two equal portions. Press one portion of dough into a rectangle, about 9 x 15 inches. Starting on a short end, roll the dough up tightly into a log and pinch the seam shut. Roll the ends under the loaf and transfer to a greased loaf pan. Press down gently so the dough reaches the sides of the pan. Repeat with the second portion of dough. Cover the pans loosely with a clean kitchen towel and let rise once more until nearly doubles, about 30-45 minutes.

Place an oven rack in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 400°F. Just before baking, lightly brush the tops of the loaves with some of the melted butter. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pans 180° and continue baking until a thermometer reads 190°F in the center of the loaf, about 15-18 minutes more. If the tops of the loaves are browning too quickly, cover the tops loosely with foil to prevent burning. Transfer the pans to wire racks to cool briefly, then turn the loaves out onto the racks after 10-15 minutes. If desired, brush lightly with additional melted butter. Let cool completely.

Snickers Cake

Snickers Cake 4

Well, Halloween has come and gone, and I found us with an abundance of leftover candy. Both Paul and I had to work on Halloween, so we were not able to hand out candy to any trick-or-treaters. However, we are definite candy fans, so we bought some to munch on ourselves. After initially picking through all the candy for our favourites, we were left with lots of Mars bars, Oh! Henry’s, and Snickers bars. We had the most Snickers bars, and this cake was born.

Snickers Cake 3

I debated for a couple of days on how to create a Snickers cake. I knew it needed chocolate, caramel, peanut, and nougat components, but I was unsure how to incorporate the nougat. Finally, after some thought (and a bit of internet searching!) I came up with a plan. A dark chocolate cake, filled with a peanut nougat frosting, slathered in a caramel buttercream. Mix all that with chopped up Snickers bars in the nougat frosting and on top, and voila! We have a Snickers cake.

Snickers Cake 5

I used my own personal favourite recipe for the cake, but I found another food blogger, the Brown Eyed Baker, who also made a Snickers cake, and I used her recipe for the peanut nougat frosting and for the caramel cream cheese buttercream icing.  I made just a few changes as well. I didn’t add the peanuts to the nougat frosting, because I added chopped up Snickers bars, and I used regular caramel sauce instead of salted caramel sauce. While I appreciate the idea of elevating the Snickers bar to something a little more elegant, I really wanted to keep the spirit of the Snickers bar.

This cake, to me, was very reminiscent of a Snicker’s bar. The nougat frosting in the middle was sweet, but very good, and the chopped up Snickers bits made it so you knew exactly what you were eating. As I said before, this is my favourite chocolate cake recipe. I love it. It is moist, with a tender crumb and so delightfully chocolatey. To top it all off – that caramel cream cheese buttercream? Pure decadence. This cake is definitely for the sweet at heart – there is sugar in every component, but I’ll tell you, it is worth it.

Snickers Cake 7

Sorry I didn’t get a perfect slice, but you at least get the essence of the cake in this photo. I’m definitely not perfect, and some cakes can be difficult to cut and serve. Either way, if you have a sweet tooth, make sure you try out this recipe.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

Cake:

2 c. boiling water
1 c. cocoa
2¾ c. flour
2 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking bowder
½ tsp. salt
1 c. butter, at room temperature
2¼ c. sugar
4 eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla

Nougat Frosting:

4 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
¼ c. evaporated milk
1½ c. marshmallow fluff
¼ c. peanut butter (creamy for a smooth nougat, chunky for more peanuts)
1 tsp. vanilla
15 mini Snickers bars, chopped

Caramel Buttercream:

½ c. butter, at room temperature
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ c. caramel sauce (either homemade or store-bought)
2 c. icing sugar

15 mini Snickers bars, chopped in half for garnishes

To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease or layer three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper. I use parchment paper, because the cakes come out perfectly every time. In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the cocoa and whisk until smooth. Let the mixture cool. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add in the vanilla and beat again. Add the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture alternately. Spread cake batter evenly in three pans, and bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool in pans about 20 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make the nougat frosting: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and evaporated milk, stirring until dissolved. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and vanilla extract, stirring until completely smooth. Fold in the Snickers bars. Let the nougat mixture cool to room temperature before using it. Either leave it at room temperature, or put into the refrigerator to cool the nougat faster. Stir occasionally as the nougat cools.

To make the caramel buttercream: In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Pour in the caramel sauce and beat until combined. Reduce speed to medium-low and add in the icing sugar slowly, a little at a time, until it has all been incorporated. Increase the mixer speed back to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.

To assemble the cake, level off the layers if they have not baked up evenly. Place one cake on a cake platter, and cover with half of the nougat frosting, evenly spread across the cake. Drizzle a tablespoon of caramel sauce over the nougat, and place the second cake layer on top of the nougat.

Top the second cake with the rest of the nougat frosting, spread evenly, and another tablespoon of caramel sauce, and place the final cake layer on top of the other two. Frost the entire cake with the caramel buttercream, then put in the refrigerator to set for an hour.

**If desired, make a chocolate ganache to drizzle on the cake, using 8 oz. of chocolate, and 4 oz. of heavy cream. Heat the cream to a boil in a saucepan, pour over the chocolate, and let sit for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let the ganache cool slightly to thicken it, but so that it is still pourable. Pour the ganache over the center of the cake, slowly, letting the ganache drip down the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the ganache set up.**

Garnish with any remaining caramel buttercream, caramel sauce and the chopped Snickers bars.