The first of Lancaster County’s fresh strawberries just hit the market and this week, my favorite ‘pick your own” farm opens for business. I can hardly wait to get into the strawberry field to fill bowls of those beautiful red juicy berries. We fill our freezer with fresh strawberry jam, as well as bags of the frozen berries. Red Raspberries are not far behind and the absolute cornucopia of produce is truly inspiring. This weekend I took one of my old favorites and revamped and updated it to include the flavors of spring with just a hint of citrus. Even I was surprised at how incredibly good this was and went back for a second and third taste. All I can say is Yum!
Eat it cold or better yet slightly warm with the custard sauce. A little creme’ fresh or whipped cream would go well here too.
Berry Bread Pudding
8 slices white bread, cubed
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
1 1/2 cups mixed berries (red raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, currants..can be frozen or fresh )
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup butter, melted (optional but really really good!)
Fresh berries to serve along side
Butter a 9X9 baking dish
Place half of the cubed bread in the bottom of the baking dish
Layer with the half of the berries, half of the cream cheese
Cover with half of the remaining bread cubes, the rest of the berries and the cream cheese cubes finishing with the last of the bread cubes.
Mix the milk, eggs, honey and orange zest in a bowl and pour over the bread layers
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator half an hour before baking
Drizzle with the melted butter
Preheat your oven to 350F
cover with foil and bake for 30 min.
Uncover and bake for an additional 15-20 min or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool before serving though it can be warm to serve
Cut into squares and serve with the orange scented custard and lightly sweetened fresh berries
Orange Scented Custard
This custard sauce is derived from the custard my mother made to serve with the fresh blueberries we had growing in the back yard. This sauce is versatile and holds well. It is good slightly warm or cold. It is good over cakes and, as used here over bread pudding, served with berries or.. all alone. I have added some orange zest to compliment the fresh berries
2 cups of milk
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Scald 2 cups of milk in a glass mixing bowl in the microwave*
In another microwave safe bowl mix the sugar with the cornstarch
Add the beaten egg and egg yolk and stir till there are no lumps
When the milk is hot, add half to the egg mixture stirring till smooth
Slowly continue adding the rest of the milk to the egg mixture till all is well blended
Microwave at 30 second intervals stirring with the whisk ever 30 seconds till you see it starting to thicken.
Reduce your microwave intervals to 15 seconds and lower to medium high power. It is important to watch it here that it does not overheat.
Your custard is finished when it thickens, coats a spoon but has not boiled. Microwaves vary in strength but this process took me about 5 minutes.
Remove from the microwave, add the orange zest and vanilla and a pinch of salt
Stir at intervals till the custard has cooled to warm
Serve with the warm bread pudding
Refrigerate remaining custard
*Scalding is heating milk to right below boiling. I used the microwave when I was doing this custard because I find it a simple way to make a small amount of custard, but you can just as easily make it on the stove. Watch as you heat the final custard, stirring constantly so that it does not set on the bottom of the pan and make sure to remove it just as it starts to boil. Use a medium high heat setting. You do not want a full boil.
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