This is the ideal way to start a weekend where you know you will still be in your jammies well into the afternoon. I usually make this the day before a holiday, letting the custard soak into the bread overnight, and bake it early the next morning. It will make the house smell like cinnamon and spice, and be ready whenever the mood hits.
Breakfast Bread Pudding
1 medium loaf of bread – any kind, though I like Sourdough or a rustic white, but it a few days in advance though and leave it on the counter top to help dry it out slightly.
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups fat-free or regular half and half
2 tablespoons high quality maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon allspice (if you have it handy, optional)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
2 tablespoons dried cranberries or dried blueberries
3 tablespoons chopped roasted walnuts or pecans
pinch of salt
Non-stick cooking spray or a touch of butter for the pan
Butter and Maple Syrup for serving
Whisk the eggs, syrup, vanilla and half and half together in a large bowl. Add the spices and stir together. Spray a baking dish lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Cut the bread into 2 inch cubes. Toss them into the dish with all of the dried fruit. Sprinkle the top with the nuts. Pour the custard over the whole dish. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to let the custard soak through the bread, or cover and refrigerate over night. Preheat the oven to 400, then reduce to 350 when the bread pudding goes in. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with maple syrup and butte, and if desired a side of crisp thick sliced, maple smoked bacon.