When I find a gorgeous loaf of bread, my instinct is to doll it up. My husband’s is to eat it, all of it, on the spot. We usually split the loaf and I get to cook with half of it and then I graciously turn a blind eye to whatever happens to the other half. Crumbs and all.
I can’t leave well enough alone ever. EVER. And just enjoying the simple pleasure of fresh-baked bread is entirely out of the question. I see something that appeals to me and I have an insatiable urge to see what else I can do with it. What can I add, how can I transform.
Unfortunately, this deep desire translated into a lot of horrendous outfits in high school. Cute shirt? Great. Add four more, maybe a couple of layers of skirts (for real), and definitely ten clippies in what I considered to be complimentary colors (no compliments were given, however). Plus add a ribbon or bow somewhere. Thank goodness I grew into an adult with impeccable taste and those days are long behind me. Ahem.
When it comes to the kitchen, I find myself almost entirely unchanged from “those days.” During a recent weekend visit to Little Rock, our friends told us they wanted to introduce us to a new bakery. We tried Silvek’s European Bakery for the first time and we were blown away! The “bakery” is located inside a Kroger store – you would never, ever know that gem is just sitting around and waiting for you unless you had the help of some foodie locals.
Their baked goods are as beautiful as you can find anywhere, but you can see the family-owned pride in the craftsmanship. These aren’t your grocery store donuts and cakes with nearly inedible icing, all identical. No. Their macaroons and cookies are slightly non-uniform, which I love. I think it’s wonderful when you can see the handiwork in the finished product (which is great for me, since I’m in no danger whatsoever of cooking food that looks like it came from a restaurant or factory).
We left the store with a couple of armloads of fresh, beautiful creations (a slice of chocolate-raspberry cake, eclairs, cookies, macaroons, and much more) including a stunning loaf of challah bread. We grazed on the sweets and left the challah bread until we got home. Then I made this fantastic breakfast, just in case we hadn’t enjoyed enough carbs for one lifetime.
- 1 loaf Challah bread (about three to four cups of bread when pulled into chunks)
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 stick cold butter, sliced
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- Grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter.
- Evenly distribute chunks or cubes of challah in the dish. I like my bread pudding with larger pieces so it doesn’t get too soggy.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/2 cup cream, white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, vanilla, and 1/2 tsp. salt.
- Pour the mixture over the bread and cover with aluminum foil. Refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight.
- When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350.
- Remove casserole from fridge.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Gradually add in butter slices with a fork. This isn’t going to evenly incorporate and you’ll end up with little chunks of sugar-cinnamon-butter.
- Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the bread. Bake for 1 hour.
- Serve hot, topped with syrup (and it’s okay to add more butter, too).