In the Pantry Challenge video series, Lauren Braun Costello -- chef, author and food stylist -- shows busy moms how to make meals using ingredients they already have in their pantries, solving their unique cooking challenges. In this episode, Lauren shows Aimee R., a mother of two and a PR executive, how to make a delicious bread pudding and sauce using a fresh vanilla bean.
Lauren begins by cutting stale challah bread into cubes. Stale bread is actually better than fresh bread for this recipe, because it will absorb more of the rich, vanilla-scented custard. She pours both milk and cream over the bread and lets it soak, then cuts open a vanilla bean and scrapes out the seeds with the back of a knife. In another bowl, she mixes together eggs, sugar, half of the vanilla bean seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon and a drizzle of melted butter. This mixture is then stirred gently into the soaked bread along with golden raisins. She pours the bread pudding into a baking dish, then sets the dish in a shallow roasting pan. She then fills the roasting pan with boiling water halfway up the side of the baking dish, creating a water bath, which will keep the custard moist and help it to set properly as a tender pudding.
While the pudding bakes, Lauren moves on to the vanilla sauce. First, she adds the vanilla bean pod and the remaining seeds into a pot along with heavy cream to infuse the cream with vanilla flavor. While the cream is steeping, she beats egg yolks together with sugar until ribbons form, then removes the vanilla bean from the cream and tempers the yolk mixture with a bit of the hot cream. When the yolks are tempered, she pours the egg mixture back into the pot of hot cream and cooks the sauce down until it coats the back of a spoon.
She strains the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl set over ice and water to ensure there are no errant bits of egg or vanilla bean, then serve the sauce alongside the bread pudding.
Get the Recipe for Challah Bread Pudding.