By Cat, Jun 2015 (Photo, right from Gurney’s (1))
When I lived in Portland, a neighborhood restaurant, Besaw’s (once was a speakeasy…) served a wonderful dessert they called a bread pudding, but it was really more of a trifle, with layers of stale bread, whipped cream, and various berries in season. So when I saw this recipe, I decided to make it when my raspberries are ripe, sometime in July, and add local blueberries from my friend Shelli (Yellow Bay Gardens).
NOTE about Besaw’s (3): The restaurant closed May 29, 2015 after the landlord would not renew their lease. After taking a summer break, the restaurant hopes to open in a new location, but may have to change their name if they loose their legal battle to keep the original name. (4)
I don’t have a nice glass serving dish like the one pictured on the Fine Cooking website for this recipe (2), so I’ll make it in a scuffle dish. A great combination is raspberries, blueberries, and quartered strawberries. I don’t recommend blackberries because of the seeds, but the softer-seeded marionberries would be a great addition if I still lived in Portland, but they don’t grow well here in NW Montana. No worries, here in Montana, we can use fresh, wild huckleberries!
Sliced stone fruit like peaches, apricots or plums would also be good in this dessert.
For the bread, the original recipe uses stale French bread (the real deal,like baguette), but you could use stale ciabatta, or other rustic breads. You remove the crusts, so even a fairly tough-crust rustic bread will do. Another option is English muffins. If I had some homemade, stale Danish Rusk on hand, I would use that.
The original recipe calls for an expensive liqueur such as Grand Marnier (orange-flavored Cognac) or Cointreau (Triple-Sec), but you could use Curacao or regular Triple-Sec. Another option is regular brandy with orange juice and grated orange zest.
Ingredients & Equipment
- 1½ quarts mixed fresh berries (hull and quarter strawberries), plus extra berries for garnish
- ¾ cup Rapadura or white cane sugar ( (or scant ½ tsp stevia extract powder)
- 4 tsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1 lb. day-old French bread (5 to 6 cups of 1½” cubes)
- ½ cup Grand Marnier or Cointreau (or ¼ cup regular brandy and ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice, divided, plus ¼ – ½ tsp freshly grated orange zest)
- 1½ cups heavy fresh cream (or whipping cream)
- 1 Tbs. Rapadura or white cane sugar
- rimmed baking sheet
- large bowl (for tossing bread cubes)
- medium metal bowl (for whipping cream)
- electric mixer
- 2 – 2½ quart clear glass bowl or soufflé dish
- Prep: Chill the metal bowl and beaters for whipping the cream.
- Grate the ginger-root and set aside.
- Prep berries: wash berries; slice strawberries in half, vertically, if small or in quarters if large.
- If using stevia, first dissolve it in about 1 Tbsp of orange juice, then add to the prepped berries in the saucepan.
- If using ¾ cup sugar, add it to the prepped berries in the saucepan.
- Place saucepan over medium-high heat, and warm the berry combo, stirring occasionally, until they start to release their juice but are still intact, about 5 minutes. Stir in graded ginger. Pour onto a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer to cool.
- Bread: Remove crusts, then cut into ½-inch cubes (to reduce amount of crumbs generated, use a long, sharp, serrated knife, and slice in only one direction, not back-and-forth). You want about 5 – 6 cups of bread cubes. Place them in the large bow.
- Divide the liquor (or bandy/orange juice mixture), to use 5 Tbsp to toss with the bread (and orange zest, if using); and 3 Tbsp plus 1 Tbsp sugar for whipping the cream.
- Cream: Whip the cream with the remaining 3 Tbs. liqueur and 1 Tbs. sugar in chilled bowl, to almost-stiff peaks.
- Assembly: Layer the prepped ingredients in the clear glass bowl or soufflé dish as follows: 1 mounded cup of bread cubes, 1 cup berries and juices, 1 cup of whipped cream. Repeat 3 more times for 12 layers total. For the finally layer, use all the remaining bread, berries (not counting those reserved for garnish) and whipped cream.
- Cover and refrigerate until the juice has completely softened the bread, at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with reserved fresh berries before serving.