Cheddar Breakfast Bread Pudding

Once you discover this use for stale baguette, you will dream of this dish in your blackest sleep. I am the sort of person who falls asleep by thinking about future meals, and this is one recipe that I used in place of Ambien – if I think about making this, I fall asleep quickly just so I can get up to eat it.

Breakfast bread pudding is similar to strata, but it’s less eggy and you don’t have to prepare it the night before, though you could. It takes about 30 minutes to bake, which is all the time you need to shower, walk the dog, and pack a lunch.

Although the recipe below calls for sundried tomatoes (I used some that I’d oven-roasted), you can really use any tidbits rattling around in your crisper – leftover roasted veggies, scraps of bacon, the baggy of chopped onion that lives behind the olives, etc. On a whim, I tossed in kielbasa. Boom. Delish.

Cheddar Breakfast Bread Pudding

Serves: 2

4 eggs

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup cheddar, cubed or grated (I used Quickes Clothbound Cheddar)

6 thickly sliced baguette rounds, preferably stale

 ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved; or sun-dried

½ cup kielbasa, bacon, or chopped ham (optional)

Fresh herbs, such as basil or chives

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two oven-proof ramekins with a pat of butter or a little oil. You can skip this step, but the ramekins will be a little tough to clean.

2. Cube or shred baguette rounds, and divide them between the two ramekins. Tuck cheese, tomatoes, and kielbasa into the bread, leaving plenty of crannies.

3. Mix together eggs and milk in a tall measuring cup, then pour over the bread mixture in each ramekin.

4.Fill a casserole pan half full of water, then set the ramekins into this cozy water bath. Pop the whole thing into the oven, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean and the puddings are nicely browned.