Cheesecake Bread Pudding
This came about when I was preparing to have a book signing at Octavia Books, and was asked to bring along something delicious to serve the customers. I hadn’t decided what that would be when the idea came to me in the shower that morning. It’s simple enough: the usual custard in which the stale French bread is soaked has some aspects (cream cheese, mostly) of a cheesecake filling. The second time around, I used Creole cream cheese, too, and that made it even better. Everything else is like a standard New Orleans bread pudding.
- 4 8-oz. packages cream cheese or Creole cream cheese, or any combination of the two
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup sour cream
- 18 eggs
- 1 1/2 quarts half-and-half (or whole milk, if you prefer)
- 4 Tbs. vanilla
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- Zest (grated peel) of one orange
- 2 Tbs. cinnamon
- 1 loaf stale poor boy bread
- 1 cup white raisins
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
1. Put the cream cheese and the sugar into the bowl of a mixer and blend on medium-slow speed until completely blended and fluffy–about 10 minutes.
2. Add the sour cream to the mixer bowl. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl after this and each other ingredient addition throughout the recipe.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time, allowing them to blend in completely before adding the next one. (Break each egg into a cup first to make sure it’s okay before you add it.)
4. Add the half-and-half, the vanilla, the orange juices, and the zest. Mix for another five minutes or so.
5. Slice the bread about an inch thick. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish, and make a shingled layer of the bread slices along the bottom and up the sides. Dust liberally with cinnamon. Sprinkle on about a third of the raisins. Pour about a third of the custard over the bread, enough to soak it and leave some liquid in the gaps.
6. Repeat the above step twice, to make three or layers. Make sure the bread is well soaked. Leave out some of the bread if necessary to make sure all the bread you use is very wet with custard.
7. Set the baking dish in a pan of warm water, and bake in the preheated 300-degree oven for about an hour and a half. Remove and cool until lukewarm.
The pudding can be served warm, at room temperature, or even ice-cold (the latter is good for breakfast).
Serves about twelve.