If you’ve ever wondered how to make a whole crowd smile with one dish, bread pudding is always a crowd-pleaser! Believe it or not, this is the first summer that I’ve actually been at my house in Watermill during July and I’m loving every minute of it. I’m usually traveling during the summer and renting out my house, but this year, i’m staying put! While there are so many unknowns in the world right now, I am so thankful to wake up surrounded by nature.
I’ve been easing myself into entertaining because it’s so important that we stay smart with our social distancing. Recently, I had a couple of good friends over — Luann de Lesseps, Ramona Singer and Colin Cowie among a few others — for a small gathering.
You all know how much I love to feed people! It was a small crowd and we kept it simple. I made my summer sangria with mangoes and cherries and I whipped up two cold soups to start: Borscht and a cream-free chilled corn soup. For something a little heavier, I whipped up Vietnamese lettuce wraps with grilled steak and shrimp. We had so much fun!
I have to say, out of everything I served, my semolina bread pudding with a warm berry sauce got the biggest reaction. Everyone was going crazy for this super simple and fruity dessert, a recipe from my Flavors cookbook, and I wanted to share it with you in hopes that you’ll treat yourself! It’s really the perfect summer dessert.
Semolina Bread Pudding
- 3 large eggs
- softened butter for baking dish
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1 cup whipping cream
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange zest (colored part of peel, removed with a zester and minced)
- 1 ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 8 cups 1-inch cubes crustless, day-old bread, preferably semolina
- 1½ cups quartered hulled fresh strawberries
- 1½ cups blackberries
- confectioners sugar
- warm berry sauce
Warm Berry Sauce
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries picked over if fresh
- 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries picked over if fresh
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries picked over if fresh
- 1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries hulled and quartered if fresh
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Semolina Bread Pudding
- Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter a 2½-quart ovenproof serving dish about 4 inches deep.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the sugar. Whisk in half-and-half and cream. Whisk in the orange juice, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Scatter half the strawberries and half the blackberries over the bread cubes. Scatter the remaining bread cubes over the berries. Scatter the remaining berries over the bread cubes. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes and berries. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding.
- Weight it with 2 or 3 small ramekins or saucers so that the bread is completely immersed in the egg mixture. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Remove the weights and the plastic wrap. Set the pudding in the oven and bake until the top is lightly browned and the custard is set but not firm when the dish is jiggled. About 50 to 60 minutes.
- Let the pudding rest in the dish on a rack for at least 10 minutes. Sift confectioners' sugar through a sieve onto the bread pudding and serve hot or warm, accompanied by the berry sauce (recipe below).
Warm Berry Sauce
- In a small, nonreactive saucepan, combine the blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Let stand until any frozen berries are fully thawed.
- Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until juicy.
- The sauce can be prepared several hours in advance. Re-warm gently over low heat before using.
You could add a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream on top if you’re looking for a cool contrast, but this dessert is pretty perfect as is! I love making a big batch of it and being able to scoop it out into individual ramekins as I go. The best part about this dessert is using fresh berries in the summertime. I know you’ll enjoy this dessert as much as my friends and I did!
I hope you’re all staying healthy and safe and enjoying summer as best you can. Bread pudding can’t solve all of your problems, but it’ll make you forget about them for a little while! 🍷🍓🌞