There are few things as beautiful as a perfect flavor combination. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that is something I was learning when I used to sit on a stool and watch the bakers do their magic on doughnuts, pastries, and breads.
While all I could think about then was falling prey to their next joke or anxiously waiting for the hot, deliciousness to come out of the house-sized oven, they were making magic with flavor combinations like cherry and cream cheese… the best of cheesecake atop a pastry. With streusel. And frosting. I knew I was growing up when I was allowed to learn the art of frosting the pastries. I don’t mean to brag, but I am a very good frosting drizzler.
I had perfectly good intentions the other day when planning to make French toast but then I didn’t. I ended up having a dry loaf of bread to throw away or I could try one of those flavor combinations to rescue it. The result? Cherry and cream cheese bread pudding.
Pretend there are pans clanking, doughnuts frying, a flour-covered radio playing an old AM station and enough laughter to make the radio wonderfully superfluous. Come with me to the magic land of flavors.
Ingredients for the bread pudding:
- About 8 cups of French bread, allow to sit overnight so it is dry
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- zest of one lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
Break bread into about 1-inch cubes and place in a large bowl.
Whisk wet ingredients, salt & sugar together in a bowl until completely beaten.
Stir egg mixture into bread so that all the bread is covered & allow to soak while preparing the fillings, streusel & frosting.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place half of the bread pudding mixture in a large cast iron pan or a similar-sized baking pan.
Ingredients for the fillings:
- 2 eight ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 large can of cherry pie filling
Mix well with hand mixer.
Place dollops of the cream cheese filling and the cherry pie filling over the bread pudding mixture.
Place the second layer of bread pudding mixture into the pan and top again with remaining cream cheese mixture and cherry pie filling.
Ingredients for streusel:
- 1/2 stick butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 small egg
Pulse in a food processor just until well mixed and then crumbly.
Sprinkle over bread pudding and bake for about hour or up to an hour & 10 minutes.
The beauty of this recipe (besides the flavors) is the possibility of making it the night before, covering it with saran wrap and placing it in the fridge overnight. Bake the next morning for breakfast or brunch. Best if baked at least 2 hours before serving – the first hour for baking and the second hour to let the bread pudding cool a bit, frost and then let the frosting set a bit.
Ummmm… and place a baking sheet underneath to catch the drips.
Drizzle with frosting. Frosting, you complete me.
Ingredients for frosting:
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- About 1 tablespoon of water (add more a teaspoon at a time if needed)
- Dash of salt
Perfect for Easter brunch, perhaps? Perfect for any day. Yes.