Lavender Bread Pudding

Today we are celebrating the birthday of a good friend, and in her honor, I made this lovely lavender bread pudding from my Culinary Bucket List! I am serving a group of six friends with this dessert, so I adapted my recipe from The Herb Companion so that each of us could have a generous slice.  I also added pecans to my version, and substituted golden raisins for traditional red ones.

This lavender bread pudding is a great use for the lavender blooms of summer, and it smells divine!  I recommend using a rectangular glass baking dish, 11 x 7″, if you have one — it fits six individual portions perfectly.  A dessert like this could easily be doubled to feed a larger group of people for a baby shower, wedding event, summer soirée, or just because!

I can’t believe this came from my garden!

Lavender Bread Pudding
Serves 6.  Each serving is the size of a layered piece of sandwich bread.  If you cut each slice in half, you could serve 12.  We’re not that dainty!  This recipe is adapted from The Herb Companion, click here to view the original recipe.

For the bread pudding:
2 cups heavy cream
4 teaspoons fresh lavender buds and flowers
12 slices of stale white bread,♦♦ crusts removed
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 dollops apricot jam (1 per slice)
1 oz. box golden raisins
1 oz. chopped pecans
3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup milk (I used skim —gasp!)
3 teaspoons vanilla

For the sugary, herb garnish:
3 heaping spoonfuls powdered sugar
about 1/2 teaspoon fresh lavender buds and flowers

Method:

♦♦  The day of preparation I left the bread slices out on the counter on a plate and the bread firmed up nicely.  A good trick if you don’t have bread already lying around!  ♦♦

Grease a 11 x 7″ glass baking dish with cooking spray.  Lay 6 slices of the crust-less bread slices in the baking dish.  It may take a little arranging, but mine fit very well!

This is how the bread pudding begins…

Use a knife to spread butter on top of each slice.

add some butter…

Then top the butter with a generous dollop of apricot jam.  Use a knife to spread the jam around.

Here are the slices topped with jam.

Apricot jam is the best…

Top each bread slice with a generous sprinkling of golden raisins and chopped pecans, pressing the fruit and nuts into the jam gently.  The nuts are not essential to the recipe, feel free to omit them if you’re not a fan of nuts, or experiment with other types of nuts if you are!

Next come the raisins…

And a few nuts for each slice. If you ask me, everything is better with nuts!

Yum, anyone?

Finally top each portion with an additional piece of crust-less white bread, pressing firmly to make a little sandwich.

A drizzle of jam is visible as the tops get into place. Press them down, gently, but firmly.

Use an electric mixer to combine the white sugar and eggs until yellowish and frothy, about 3 minutes.  Add in the vanilla.  With a whisk, or whisk attachment, whisk the egg mixture while carefully streaming in the milk.

On the stove-top, heat the heavy cream until it bubbles at the edges.  Remove the heavy cream from the heat, and add in fresh lavender buds and flowers.  Stir to combine.  I’m so proud of my lavender crop this year!

Set aside the lavender-infused cream to cool, about 30 minutes.

Once the cream has cooled, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Use a small strainer to strain out the lavender bits as you pour the cooled lavender cream into the egg mixture.  Whisk to combine.  The lavender bits can be discarded.

Pour the creamy egg mixture over the bread stacks in the baking dish and allow the bread to marinate in the lavender/egg/cream mixture for 15 minutes, pressing the bread stacks into the cream gently with a spoon.  This step will ensure that each piece absorbs the lavender custard equally.

The bread goes for a herbal bath!

Bake the bread pudding for 40-50 minutes until it is golden brown.  45 minutes seemed to do the trick with my oven.

While the bread pudding is baking, prepare the topping.  Mix the powdered sugar with the remaining lavender buds and flowers in a medium bowl using a spoon to crush the flowers and buds gently to release their scent and flavor.

Remove the bread pudding from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes.

Top with lavender powdered sugar before serving.

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