Monday, February 19, 2007

Dutch Oven Bread Pudding

BREAD PUDDING: Break up any old leftover biscuits or sourdough bread. Mix soft with milk and sugar; some spices. Dump in some raisins and cook slow in dutch oven. If you have eggs you can add them to the pudding.

--Slim Ellison, Globe, Arizona
Chuck Wagon Cookin' by Stella Hughes
(Univ. Ariz. Press, 1974)

I was initially apprehensive about baking a traditional bread pudding in a cast iron Dutch oven. In the camp kitchen, I always bake the pudding in a water bath. The water bath is an essential element when baking custard-like recipes.

The water bath insulates delicate foods like custard and quiches from the intense direct heat in the oven. I used this technique in the Dutch oven in September 2005 when I baked individual custard cups.

Yesterday I didn't want to fool with placing a glass dish or pie pan inside the 12-inch Dutch oven. Since we were traveling to my brother's house in Davis, California for a family gathering, I wanted a dish that came together with little fuss.

I found an appealing recipe by Dian Thomas, author of Recipes for Roughing it Easy, in Camp Cooking: 100 Years, 1905-2005. Two features of Thomas' recipe didn't make sense to me -- the use of an aluminum foil liner and her layered approach to the recipe. Otherwise, the recipe is essentially the same, including her use of sour cream.


Add 1/2 cup dried fruit to the recipe if desired.

6 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound sliced bread, cubed
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a medium bowl, mix eggs, granulated sugar, sour cream, half-and-half and vanilla. Grease 12-inch Dutch oven with melted butter. Place bread in oven. Stream butter over bread and toss to thoroughly coat. Evenly sprinkle brown sugar and nutmeg over bread. Toss to combine. Pour egg mixture over bread and thoroughly mix. Let set about 20 minutes until the bread adsorbs most of the mixture.

Bake in moderate oven (6 coals under oven and 16 on lid) for 40 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold. Serves 8 to 12.

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