Mother's Day is such a wonderful tribute to thank those lovely ladies in our lives who have dedicated so much time and effort to making sure we are raised right. Of course, I'm sure that we all dedicate time to this each and every day, but its nice to have a gentle reminder to take time out each year. Of course, how to celebrate each year is a quandary that always stumps us in my household as we persistently ask my mother- what would you like to do and invariably the response returned is "spending time with you girls is enough for me". Its a lovely concept but we tend to want to treat her as well. For a few years my sister and I took my mother out for brunch, but we were rather disappointed with many of the brunches we attended in restaurants. So, for the past several years we have made Mothers Day brunch instead, this year I tried my hand at a take on a breakfast-y Bread Pudding.
My mother has always made delicious Bread Puddings, and really enjoys them, so I thought it would be nice to treat her to one of her favorites. I wanted to give it a little spin though, and decided to incorporate Peaches and Blueberries to the mix. Now, unfortunately, Peaches aren't really in season yet and are far too hit or miss right now to purchase fresh. So I decided to use frozen peaches since I knew I could find more consistent flavor there. Unfortunately, after visiting numerous grocery stores, I was unable to find frozen peaches.....so I ended up with jarred peaches. As if the idea of jarred peaches wasn't abhorrent enough to me- I realized after purchase that they were in white grape juice. I was pretty sure that any flavor of "peach" was going to be pretty non existent. I pressed onward however, refusing to back down. On Mother' Day morning, I laid out a loaf of Pepperidge Farm Brown Sugar Cinnamon Swirl bread on a cookie sheet in a single layer, and popped it into the oven at 300 degrees at first to "stale" the bread, basically to remove the moisture so that the bread would soak up lots of flavor from the custard mix I was going to make. I upped the oven temperature to 325 after about a half an hour, and that did the trick for another 15 minutes or so.
In the mean time, I removed about four halves of the peaches from their jar, sliced them, and then added them to a food processor with Almond Extract, fresh nutmeg, and a little salt. I blended these flavors together and continued to taste, adding more of different ingredients until I found a nice balance of flavors. I had been accurate- the peaches in white grape juice were lacking in vibrant peach flavor, but had a background with it. I blended the peaches till they were completely pureed, and then set to work on the custard. Several of the recipes that I had read stated to mix 4 eggs with 2 cups of milk, but that was for a slightly smaller quantity of bread. I decided to increase to 5 eggs and 2.5 cups of milk, and a half a cup of granulated sugar, that I then mixed with the peach puree and several handfuls of blueberries, as well as slivered almonds. When the bread was done, I cut it into bite size squares and mixed the bread and the custard mixture together in a big bowl. I let the bread soak up the liquid for about 10-15 minutes, and then poured the bowl into my waiting, buttered, baking dish, and popped it into the preheated 350 degree oven for about 45- 55 minutes, or until the inserted knife came out completely clean in the middle.
We let the hot pudding rest for a bit and cool. When we just couldn't wait any longer- I cut three squares from the pan, and set out maple syrup for my family to drizzle over their pudding as needed.
As frustrated as I was at having to use jarred peaches, I really loved the flavors of this bread pudding. You could detect the light lovely taste of the peaches, the delicious flavor of the almond, the sweetness from the sugar, and it as all offset by the tartness of the blueberries. One of the things that I really love about bread pudding is the consistency that the bread takes on- spongy almost with just a wonderful texture to it. I loved the addition of the almond slivers with this as they countered the soft pudding like quality with a bit of a crunch.
Overall, I would deem this, my first attempt at bread pudding a success, though I am itching to make this again when fresh, ripe, beautiful summer peaches are available. I hope my mother is up for a Mother's Day re-do!