In honour of the return of glorious sunshine, I will be making a herbed yellow corn sourdough this week. This delightful bread, which I learned from Chad Robertson, combines golden Ontario corn and whatever herbs I can find at the farmer’s market this afternoon–the perfect expression of springtime.
Two weeks ago I needed to do something about my surplus of old bread. I also had a bunch of random milk and cream left over from the square dance. Bread + milk = savoury bread pudding = one of my favourite comfort foods. I don’t really remember how I learned about bread puddings, but I love them because they are so loose and wonderful–I feel like they have taught me how to improvise in the kitchen.
That’s because savoury bread pudding is the most flexible dish in the world. Here I used three kinds of bread, some organic swiss chard, a sweet potato, some garlic and fresh sage, but you could really use any vegetables, meat, leftovers, cheese, nuts, and seasonings you have around. You get to eat it so you can decide your proportion of stuff to bread!
The only real judgement comes when you add the liquid. I usually beat one egg per cup of milk, cream, buttermilk, broth (or a mixture, or any other liquid), season it with salt and pepper, and then I toss the bread mixture with the milk. I let it sit for a minute or two so the bread can start to absorb the liquid, and then I check the bottom of the bowl and feel how wet the bread is. If its not super wet and I don’t have much liquid left over, I add more. I prefer to add too much than too little because with too much I just get a more custardy pudding, while with too little, well, I think “dry” is the most friendly way to describe the result.
I butter or oil my baking dish, fill it with the mixture, and then I finish it by topping it with cheese, drizzling with olive oil, or dotting with butter. Or–as I did this time–all of the above. I start it out covered in a 375 F oven until it bubbles and is starting to set when I peek. I then take off the cover and bake it a little longer until the top is brown and I can no longer resist the heavenly aromas coming from my kitchen.