Blackberry Bread Pudding
Blackberries and cinnamon take this bread pudding from classic comfort-food to deeply delicious. Works great with day-old or slightly stale bread (in which case, allow the bread to soak in the eggy liquid for an hour before baking).
1 Tablespoon butter
About 1/2 pound challah or other dense bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
2 cups milk (preferably whole)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the middle position. Butter an 8-inch x 8-inch baking dish, and add the cubed bread to it.
2. Put the blackberries in a large bowl and use a fork or the tines of a whisk to gently crush them and break them up.
3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, then pour them over the blackberries.
4. Add milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, almond extract (if using) and salt to the bowl with the eggs and blackberries. Whisk to combine.
5. Pour mixture over the bread cubes. Press down on the bread to ensure it's all evenly moistened. Allow the bread to soak for up to an hour, or bake right away.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Then, cover loosely with foil and bake for another 35-45 minutes, until the pudding is significantly puffed up and does not appear wet in the middle. Check doneness with a toothpick. If it is wet, bake for another 5 minutes (slightly moist is fine). The puff will reduce as it cools. Serve hot or at room temperature.