It makes me feel terribly old to ask where the time goes or to ponder how time slips away from us without warning, but I think these thoughts. I do it often. Even though I find this type of thing is akin to pointless chatter about the weather, there’s really no escaping such musings when a little babe is shooting up before your very eyes.
She is a captivating little red fox, that one, but I managed to pull myself away from her for a moment today in order to take a good look at the calendar. Lo and behold, it’s July 1st. And, accordingly, I feel compelled to ask where did June go? It was fleeting. That is certain, but it was also extraordinarily lovely. It was just what I needed. It was just what Maeve needed. We are both refreshed and joyously connected. I know all of her little peeps and sounds. I know her tired face, her sad face, and her squeals of wonder. I love them all, of course.
In addition to all this learning and connecting, we had a lot to celebrate last month. We celebrated my birthday, K’s first father’s day, and Maeve’s half birthday. That’s right. She’s 6 months old. It’s a wonder, isn’t it? And, during our brief respite, she learned to sit up on her own, began the painful teething process, and started routinely giggling at anyone and everyone. She rolls over with ease, explores new foods with vigor, and can stick both sets of toes in her mouth at the same time. The amount of new things she absorbs everyday makes my brain sort of hurt. It’s remarkable.
Suffice to say, June was pretty fantastic and I recall several moments of sheer clarity. However, as I desperately tried to figure out the natural rhythms of Maeve’s sleep cycle, there were more than a few crazy moments. There was the time I chased a giant fly about the house for fear it would wake up my tired girl. There was the mean Fed Ex man who pounded on the door prompting me to post a hot pink sign begging people not to disturb us. We even went so far as to oil every door in the house so the squeaks wouldn’t wake up our girl during her restorative naps. The doors now fly open like butter, but I suppose that’s better than those unpredictable creaks.
Maeve also suffered her first bout of illness during June. And, I won’t lie. It nearly broke my heart. The sneezing and coughing were sad and more than a little terrifying. So scary were those wheezes that I found myself in a clinic in San Francisco on Memorial Day. It certainly wasn’t what I envisioned for our getaway weekend, but, in the end, my worry and the extra gray hairs were unnecessary. Maeve was merely suffering from a nasty virus. It also turned out the clinic where we brought her out of desperation was a marijuana dispensary. You can all rest assured, however. Maeve’s virus didn’t qualify her for herbal treatment, but I do think she inadvertently took her first whiff of the stuff. I suppose I should be grateful I was there to supervise the momentous occasion.
When we floated out of the clinic, we were more than a little relieved. We were also delighted to find ourselves within walking distance of Tartine Bakery. Is there a better place to find oneself after a hard morning of fret at the pot clinic? I think not. In fact, in the future, I will try to remember this day for the miraculous strawberry bread pudding I had at the bakery and not the series of unfortunate events that preceded it.
You can see a picture of the Tartine bread pudding above. Miraculous, I tell you, is an understatement. The Tartine bread pudding was moist with a rich custard and just the right amount of tartness from the early summer strawberries. It was sweet, but not cloyingly so. The bread still seemed remarkably light despite the fact that it was soaked in custard and laced with a generous helping of homemade caramel. And, I’ll be honest, a day hasn’t passed during which the thought of recreating that strawberry bread pudding hasn’t crossed my mind.
I figure the time is right. After all, the Fourth of July is just around the corner. You are very likely headed to a barbecue or, quite possibly, you are hosting some sort of patriotic affair in your own backyard. Whatever the case may be, you were probably going to make a strawberry shortcake. It’s a standard dessert. It’s also delicious. There is really nothing wrong with strawberry shortcake. I like it a great deal. However, you should skip it this year. I think you’re ready for a little something different. This strawberry bread pudding is just the ticket. It’s not the Tartine recipe, mind you. I don’t have that recipe, but I did my research and my taste testing. I am more than satisfied with the outcome.
The key to a wonderful strawberry bread pudding is the dark brown sugar that caramelizes in the bottom of the pan, which mixes beautifully into the custard, and egg bread. Of course, plenty of good berries are essential as well. In the end, you’ve got a delicious helping of bread pudding and a truly pretty dessert for nearly no effort. Although it does take some time to bake, I think you’ll find strawberry bread pudding even easier to put together than your standard strawberry shortcake.
Let me know what you think. Maybe this strawberry bread pudding will make your day? Take the edge off a medical emergency? Either way, it’s a great option for your next picnic. Happy Fourth of July!
Strawberry Brioche Bread Pudding
1 and 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
4 and 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubes crustless egg bread (such as challah or brioche)
7 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches of salt
2 and 1/2 cups sliced and hulled organic fresh strawberries
Spread brown sugar evenly in bottom of 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish (or other 9- to 10-cup dish). Sprinkle bread cubes evenly over. Combine eggs, cream, milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl; whisk to blend well. Pour custard through sieve over bread in dish. Spread the strawberries over the top of the bread and mix into the cubes and custard. Let the pudding stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing on the bread and berries to submerge.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Place baking dish in roasting pan. Pour enough lukewarm water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of baking dish. Bake pudding until set, brown on top, and small knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool in water 20 minutes.
Spoon bread pudding into dessert bowls and serve warm.
Adapted from Bon Appetit.