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As I wrote on Tuesday, which was Three King’s Day, otherwise known as the Epiphany, or the day that the three kings brought all those nice presents to baby Jesus, many cultures celebrate January 6th with a sweet bread that features a small baby Jesus doll lurking inside. It’s considered good luck to get the piece that has the doll inside (or it means you have to throw a tamale party, which may or may not be good luck, depending on how you look at it). I sampled and wrote about a rosca de reyes, and many of you were nice enough to recount your memories of the traditional Mexican treat, or your own culture’s sweet bread.
Since the bread is the diameter of a hubcap, I have lots and lots of leftover rosca de reyes. So I thought I’d come up with a festive bread pudding to use it up.
Recipe, and a step-by-stop after the jump.
Boozy Cherry-Almond Bread Pudding
Yield: about 10 servings
I used dried cherries and apples and almonds in this pudding to reference the dried fruits and nuts that are often baked into rosca de reyes. The rum is just for fun.
butter, for greasing pan
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons gold or amber rum
2 3/4 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
5 1/2 cups cubed rosca de reyes, or any other mildly sweet bread, tightly packed
1/3 cup slivered almonds
Butter an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the dried cherries with 2 tablespoons rum. Set aside to let cherries soak in the rum.
In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup rum, eggs, half and half and sugar. If using a vanilla bean, split the bean open lengthwise, and scrape seeds out into the bowl. Or add vanilla extract. Stir in the almond extract, dried apples, cinnamon and allspice. Pour in the dried cherries and the rum they were soaking in. With a whisk, beat mixture well, until all ingredients are incorporated. Like so:
Arrange the bread cubes in the buttered baking dish, and sprinkle almonds over. Pour half and half mixture over the bread cubes. Cover the top of the dish with plastic wrap or parchment paper and weigh it down with a plate. Let the bread pudding sit like this for 10 minutes, which helps the bread soak up the custard.
Bake in the hot oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The pudding is done when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.