It might be the ingrained Rust Belt Frugality, might also be that I grew up during the period characterized by what is known as Stagflation*; don't know. In any event, I've always been fascinated by the reduced meat/produce/bakery offerings in the littler grocery stores around here.
Anyway, the other day, while perusing the day old baked good bin**, I managed to find a reduced priced loaf of foofy bread, that is, bread so precious that it wasn't even called bread anymore, but pane mediterraneo. To go with the upmarket name, it was priced kind of fancily (or fancifully) at originally $6 a loaf.
By the time I got to it, was $2. Heck, for croutons, crostini and chapelure,*** that works. I think that's even less than a loaf of Wonder at this point.
On the walk back home, I gave some thought as to what to do with my happy little windfall. I certainly didn't need the several cups of breadcrumbs or croutons this would net me (have decent reserves of both in the freezer). I'm not much of a sandwich or morning toast person; the bread would be green before I got 1/2 through with it that way.
At home, checked out what I had in the larder and made my decision. Since we were just having soup that night, figured I could round things out with a slightly heavier than normal dessert:
1 c. stale bread, cut into small bits and with the crusts on, gosh darnit.
1 c. milk
2 t sugar
1 egg (I used medium-sized)
1/4 c. raisins
1 t. extract (at this point, I've used both rum and vanilla.)
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
finely grated peel of 1/2 a small orange****
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a glass pan (or, in my case, a ceramic cereal bowl.)
2.) Beat egg; add milk, sugar, spices, extract. Mix until well-blended.
3.) Add bread, raisins, peel. Mix well. Let sit for 15 minutes or so to allow the bread to soak up the milk, the raisins to soften and the flavors to blend.
4.) Take this mixture, toss it into the greased bowl, then let bake for 35-45 minutes; until liquid is evaporated and a nice, toasty crust forms on top.
Serve with your favorite accompaniments. Most folks like this with ice or whipped cream and maybe a bit more of something sweet on top (like rum sauce, chocolate, etc). I've been serving it in a pool of buttermilk with a drizzle of maple syrup on top.
Serves 2 (protein-rich meal completing portions) to 4 (smaller, more dessert-like ones).
* Usually joke about growing up during The Depression. Heck, I feel old, but I'm not *that* old.
** Someplace I normally try to steer clear of. 1/2 dozen cheap cream horns only look good in the package. Unless you can cut them in halves or thirds and serve them at tea to a bunch of friends, they actually end up being pretty vile. Idem for the tub o' rugalach, etc.
*** Said with a wry smile and pronounced in what I'm told is a charming regional accent.
**** Regarding the last five ingredients: Mentioned already the extracts I've tried. I'd also like to tinker with the fruit, the citrus peel and the spices. I'm thinking that apples, cloves and / or cardamom might be good if I don't put any peel in. Taking things even further, I'm wondering how a 50:50 coconut milk:cow's milk blend with lemon extract, shredded coconut, ginger and lime peel would work out. Heaven knows I've got enough bread to try it. Also have a can of coconut milk that's just dying to be used before its fast-approaching expiration date. We'll see.