Just about every culture that makes bread has its own version of bread pudding. This one has a decidedly Spanish-Moorish flavor from the orange zest as well as the orange caramel sauce. In Spain, the sauce would invariably be made with blood oranges. They have not only a deep, lovely color, but also an intense flavor. If you can find them, try them; otherwise, seek out the sweetest oranges in the market. This recipe is designed for individual ramekins, but it can easily be adapted for a larger baking dish: You will have to bake it a little longer, testing it for doneness by inserting a knife into the center, as you would a cake; it is done when the knife comes out clean. Note that this recipe needs to be started the night before.
1To make the pudding, heat the milk, sugar, cinnamon stick, and orange zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Let cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight to steep.
2Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the bread cubes in a large bowl. Reheat the milk mixture and remove the cinnamon stick. In a large bowl, lightly whisk together the yolks and eggs. Pour the milk mixture into the eggs and mix thoroughly. Pour this mixture over the bread and allow to soak for a few minutes.
3Butter the insides of eight 5-ounce ramekins. Divide the mixture among the ramekins and place them in a roasting pan or on a large, deep sheet pan. Pour about 1 inch of water into the pan to create a water bath. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours.
4To make the sauce, bring orange juice to a simmer over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan, then reduce to 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, add cream, and set aside. In another saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and continue to cook, stirring frequently until sugar is lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add the orange juice mixture, stirring constantly. Simmer for 5 minutes and strain through a fine sieve.
5Serve the pudding warm, either turned out onto individual plates or left inside the ramekins. Top with the sauce, a dollop of whipped cream, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Beverage pairing:Quady Winery Essensia Orange Muscat, California. The Orange Muscat grape is rarely seen anymore, but here it is lightly fortified to reach 15 percent alcohol. It tastes of orange peel, peaches, and spices and will be delightful with this dessert. Serve chilled.
This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.