Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice Rhubarb Bread Pudding

It will take an exorbitant, inhuman amount of rhubarb this summer for me to tire of the wondrous desserts that utilize this tart, delicious seasonal vegetable. Already, I've sampled several crumbles and crisps and cobblers whose defining ingredient is the rhubarb, and with each taste, I only grow hungrier for it. However, I knew that there must be something out there for rhubarb besides the generic pie; once I started searching, I found that I was correct. I discovered recipes for rhubarb sorbets, crepes, trifles and compotes. The one that I was most eager to try was the Rhubarb Bread Pudding I found in my Great Harvest Bread Company cookbook.

What better time to try out this summery recipe than the Summer Solstice: the longest day of the year, a day of celebration in Seattle, revolving around the Summer Solstice Parade and Fremont Fair in the Fremont neighborhood. It is a jubilant time of year, and so it deserves an accordingly festive dessert, which is where the rhubarb comes in. Rhubarb is quite simply a cheery and refreshing food, and it can be used in such a wide range of desserts, from the favorite stand-bys to the unique experiments, that it will be a very dark time when the rhubarb season comes to an end.

As for the bread pudding, it was as much of a crowd-pleaser as I expected anything with rhubarb to be: tangy, with just enough sweetness to balance it out. Even still, I think that the sugar could be reduced slightly to give the dish an even stronger rhubarb flavor.

Rhubarb Bread Pudding
8 slices white bread (½ inch thick each)
1 lb. fresh rhubarb, diced (about 4 cups)
1 ½ c. milk
5 eggs
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ c. chopped walnuts
¼ c. butter
1 ¼ c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1. Toast bread and remove crusts. Cut toasted bread into ½ inch cubes and places in a buttered casserole dish.
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and butter. Bring just to a boil. Pour over toast cubes and let stand 15 minutes.
3. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in rhubarb. Stir into bread mixture and sprinkle with nuts.
4. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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