Rhubarb Bread Pudding

As I have mentioned elsewhere, I have learned to trust Jerri’s judgements about recipes. Not that I always follow her recommendations, but sometimes I like to live a little recklessly and once in a while, my intuition proves right.

Like me, Jerri hates to throw away food, so she was as interested as I in Jane Marsh Dieckmann’s Use it All: The Leftovers Cook Book where I found the recipe for calabacitas last month. Jerri put a bookmark at the the page for this recipe and suggested I try it.

I did and we both liked it. The rhubarb and lemon juice flavor the rather bland sweetness of the bread and custard and the custard smooths the taste of the rhubarb. If you like either rhubarb or bread pudding, chances are good that you will enjoy it too, especially if it’s warm and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cup plus 2 T sugar
2 cups dried bread cubes
1/2 to 1 T lemon zest
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1 cup milk
1 large egg

PROCEDURE:

Clean and chop the rhubarb into a quarter to half-inch dice. Cut the dried bread into half-inch cubes. Wash and grate the yellow zest from a lemon and squeeze the juice from the fruit.

Preheat the oven to 375º and grease a one to one and a half-quart casserole or soufflé dish. Put a pan with an inch of hot water into the oven.

Mix the rhubarb and bread cubes in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and lemon zest, then dribble the lemon juice over the mixture and mix everything thoroughly.

In a smaller bowl, beat the egg until it is lemon yellow, add the milk and beat them together. Pour the milk over the rhubarb and bread mixture and stir it well. Put the pudding into the casserole and smooth the top with a spatula.

Carefully set the casserole into the pan of hot water and bake the pudding for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Check for doneness with a knife inserted near the center of the pudding. It should come out nearly clean.

NOTES: Dieckmann’s recipe calls for only a half-cup of sugar, but we thought that the pudding was a little too tart. Feel free to try it with just a half cup and adjust the sugar the next time you make the pudding if you agree with us.

Jerri thought that the lemon zest overpowered the flavor of the rhubarb. “I like the flavor of rhubarb,” says she, so I adjusted the recipe to give you the choice of using less zest.

Whole milk works best for making custards and puddings. If you have only reduced fat milk in the refrigerator but do have some cream or half and half, add a couple of tablespoons of either to the cup before you fill it with milk.