Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sweet Corn Bread Pudding with Raisins, Cinnamon, and Maple Syrup . . .

Winter rages on and it's a frosty world out there. The sort of world that calls for big pots of chili, simmering endlessly on the stove, and shiny pans of homemade corn bread puffing up in the oven. Last weekend, that scenario described my kitchen to a T.

For a lunch meeting to be held at my church that Sunday, I cooked up just such a batch of steaming red chili, enough for about 40 people. Along with it went an equally hefty batch of fluffy, sunshine-yellow corn bread. What I didn't know, however, was that another couple also planned to provide a significant amount of food for the same event. I'd had a nagging suspicion that this might occur, but ignored it and didn't take  the initiative to check it out first. No matter. It all worked out fine, of course, and the leftover chili -- about half of what I'd brought -- was poured into zip-loc bags and tucked into in the church's large freezer for future use.

The corn bread, though, didn't seem to me worth freezing. Not because it wasn't good. It was, in fact, a credit to its bready race--nicely moist, slightly sweet and, frankly, kind of hard for me to resist. But corn bread is one of those things, not unlike biscuits, that are only appealing eaten out of hand when incredibly fresh. Don't you think? After all, isn't it a widely accepted fact that corn bread's natural destiny is to dry out, crumble apart, and blow away like top soil in a dust storm?

In light of that harsh reality, I took two bags of the big, soft chunks home with me. This time, I pledged silently, I wasn't going to end up tossing it all in the garbage can. But other than using the stuff once or twice for poultry dressing in the past, I'd never explored surplus corn bread's potential. This time had to be different. There was far too much of it to toss into the trash guilt-free.

So I schemed. And that's how this warm, comforting, corn bread pudding recipe was born. Is it a dessert? Yes. Is it a fabulous brunch item, sort of breakfasty in its own way? Oh, yes to that, too. It's whatever you want it to be. Go ahead . . . explore the leftover corn bread possibilities. You won't be sorry. And your garbage can will thank you.

Sweet Corn Bread Pudding 
with Raisins, Cinnamon, and Maple Syrup
(For a printable version of these recipes, click here!)

Make the corn bread first. (This is a very generic recipe that appears all over; I've seen it on grocery-store brand bags of corn meal, as well as on name-brand containers of corn meal. It's universal!)

Lightly grease an 8" x 8" or 9" x 9" baking pan.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients for the corn bread:

3/4 cup corn meal (Not coarse grain; just the typical grocery store brand will do,)
1 and 1/4 cups All Purpose flour (I used unbleached.) 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (I used coarse kosher, and a pinch more than this, actually.)
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk (I used 2 percent)
1/4 cup vegetable oil or melted butter (I used canola oil.)

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the liquids. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients, and stir just to combine. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for about 20 minutes or so, until the top is lightly brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack, in the pan.

To make the bread pudding:

Lightly butter a deep casserole dish, approximately 9" x 9" or so. (A clear glass dish is your best bet for this.) Preheat oven to 325.

Ingredients for the bread pudding:

Approximately 6 cups of corn bread cubes (Cut generous bite-size cubes.)
2 cups milk (I used 2 percent)
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used Trader Joe's brand.)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt (I used regular salt)
1/2 cup dark raisins (Or more if you're crazy about them.)

Spread the cubed corn bread out on a half-sheet pan (the kind with shallow sides), and put it in the 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until it feels dry but not until it looks toasted (it doesn't need to "color"). Remove it from the oven and set it aside to let it cool.

Turn the oven up to 350 degrees.

In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together well the milk, cream, eggs, and maple syrup. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the sugar mixture to the liquids and whisk briskly.

Pile the cooled corn bread cubes into your prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the raisins evenly over the cubes and tuck them in here and there so they're not just on the top of the pudding. Pour the liquid slowly over the cubes, taking care to make sure none are left completely dry. Lightly pat the top down a bit to help ensure every cube will absorb some of the liquid.

Let the pudding sit for 15 minutes or so before you put it in the oven, again to ensure that it has a chance to absorb the liquid.

Bake the pudding for approximately 60 minutes, until the top looks toasty and golden, and the bottom shows some golden color as well. The middle of the pudding should be wet but not jiggly. Check on the pudding about halfway through the baking time to be sure the top's not browning too quickly. Cover the top lightly with foil if that's starting to happen.

Cool the pudding on a rack, and serve it from the pan while still warm, each serving drizzled with a little maple syrup, if you like. Be sure to store any leftovers in the fridge.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!) 


warmvanillasugar said...

I love cornbread and I love bread pudding!! Great idea to put them together. This looks so yummy.

june in ireland who loves to bake said...

What a brilliant combination. I've always loved (to eat and to bake) corn bread and corn muffins, and I also love and have made my fair share of some tasty bread and butter raisin pudding (a big thing in the UK and Ireland), but I've never thought to put my love of corn bread and bread pudding together. Perfect for one another. Thanks for this, Jane. I'm going to try out this recipe very soon (3 of the 9 pounds gained over the Christmas/New Year food frenzy are now gone, so hopefully sooner rather than later can I treat myself and himself to this dee-lish sounding (and looking) heavenly treat.

eatgood4life.blogspot.com said...

I never cared for bread pudding much. Only attempted to make it once and hate it :-( although this one looks really yummy and I bet the raisins add a nice touch.

Love your baking :-)
How is pastry school coming along?

Jennifurla said...

Great use of the bread, with maple syrup I am in love.

Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) said...

What a gorgeous way you've presented this...I think I'd have this at breakfast. Wait no, anytime would do; you're right.

~~louise~~ said...

Just what the doctor ordered Jane. I don't think I've ever indulged in corn bread pudding but by the looks of yours, it sure seems like I'm missing some mighty fine goodness!

Thank you so much for sharing...definitely a keeper I will be visiting soon:)

Priscilla said...

Hi Jane ,Thank you so much for your lovely comments on my christmas cake! I am very flattered. I love your recipes! Trying new flavours anad recipes is somthing I am trying to do this year...I have never made corn bread before. Thank you for the recipes

Priscilla x

Hanaâ said...

I've been looking for an oil-based cornbread recipe and this just sounds perfect! I will try it and make cornbread muffins (easy to freeze and you take out what you need with dinner and thaw that out). The pudding looks wonderful too. The maple syrup drizzle makes it over the top! Beautiful! Stay warm :o)

Lisa said...

Ohhh, this sounds like a fantastic idea for cornbread. Who knew that it could be made into such a sweet treat. I have a linky party on my blog every week called "Sweets for a Saturday" and I'd like to invite you to stop by tomorrow and link this up.

Katie said...

Wow looks fabulous and perfect for brunch or an indulgant weekend breakfast. I've only made cornbread a few times and found it a bit fry after a couple of days, now I have the perfect recipe for the leftovers. Looks so good!

Julia @Mélanger said...

Oh my gosh, what a fabulous idea. I would never have thought of using cornbread in bread pudding. I happily use most sweet breads, but what a great twist, Jane!

Margo said...

My stash of freezer cornbread is getting pretty big! I love your recipe idea - definitely going to try this.

I use leftover cornbread for dressing, and also for this cornbread salad:

Sid's Sea Palm Cooking said...

Thanks for a great recipe. I cook lunch once a week at our senior center and have pans of leftover cornbread in the freezer and needed a recipe to use some of it up. Our seniors love bread pudding and I bet this would also go over well. At any rate, I'm going to try it soon. And when I do I will post about it, and link back here.