I woke up thinking about food this morning. Specifically, breakfast. We usually go out for breakfast one day on the weekend, but today I wanted to start the day at home. So, what would it be?
I thought about muffins, but didn’t feel inspired. Then the baked French toast that I often make for Christmas morning brunch came to mind. It’s delicious, but I decided to use that as jumping off point for creating a breakfast bread pudding. I wanted something substantial with a reasonable portion size and fairly healthy with the sweetness dialled down. The only bread on hand was commercial whole wheat thinly sliced (didn’t appeal) or the last few inches of a loaf of Nova Scotia Brown Bread from my local bakery that was hanging around the freezer waiting for me to call it into action. We bought that bread for the first time last weekend. It was good, but I wasn’t particularly enamoured of the flavour, which had a molasses undertone. So, I decided to use a little more cinnamon than I normally would, and it paid off. I liked the bread much more in this recipe than I did in a sandwich.
It was fun to noodle around the kitchen first thing in the morning, with the coffee maker doing its magic, making it up as I went. No recipe, just experimenting to see if I could come up with a quick and simple breakfast for us that would look and taste special. Here’s my creation, ready to go into the oven.
The Culinary Enthusiast and I were pleased with the outcome. The topping and the crispy edges provided texture, the berries scattered on top and mixed into the filling delivered sweet tanginess, and the custard-soaked, cinnamon-kissed bread was creamy and delicious. Served in individual ramekins, this helped with portion control and added flair to Saturday breakfast for two. We enjoyed this meal with freshly squeezed grapefruit, hot coffee and the pleasure of each other’s company. A good start to the weekend, indeed.
Breakfast Bread Pudding with Whole Wheat and Cinnamon
This made enough for three 7 oz. (200 ml) ramekins.
Pre-heat oven to 350° and prepare the ramekins by greasing them with a bit of butter or margarine, or vegetable oil.
- 2 slices bread, each about 3/4″ thick, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup mixed berries (I used a frozen mix of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries)
- 1 cup milk, plus more if needed (I used almond milk)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Start with any crumbs from the cutting board (why throw them out?)
- 1-1/2 tbsp whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp wheat bran
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- sprinkle of cinnamon
- 1 tbsp butter or margarine
- some more berries for scattering on top
Combine the bread and berries in a bowl. Next, measure out a cup of milk in a two-cup measuring cup, add the egg, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon and whisk together. Pour this custard (that’s what you just made!) over the bread and berries, and toss together gently, ensuring all the bread is soaking in the liquid.
Next, prepare the topping. Put the crumbs, flour, bran, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, add the butter or margarine, and cut it all together well with a fork. You are looking for a somewhat crumbly texture, not a smooth mixture. (My go-to ingredient for a crumble topping is oatmeal, but Brent can’t eat oats, so I’m learning to think outside the box.)
By the time you are done preparing the topping, the bread should have soaked up the custard. You are looking for a fairly moist mixture. You can add a little more milk if you think that’s required. (I added about another 1/8 cup and gave it another gentle stir.)
Spoon heaping mounds of the bread, berry and custard mixture into the ramekins, sprinkle the crumble topping over them, and festoon with some more berries. I was getting to the bottom of my bag of frozen berries, so I had a lot of “berry bits” in addition to whole ones. No problem!
Place the ramekins on a parchment paper lined baking tray, and bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes. When they are done, they will be a little crispy around the edges, the crumble will be crunchy and the centre should be creamy and hot.