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This old-fashioned bread pudding, redolent of maple, is the perfect end to a simple supper.
4 to 4 1/2 cups (7 1/4 to 8 ounces) cubed bread*
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup, grade B preferred
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon maple flavor or vanilla extract, or 1/8 teaspoon butter-pecan or butter-rum flavor oil
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sparkling sugar (optional)
1/4 cup diced pecans or walnuts (optional)
*Just about any kind of bread will do, but brioche, panettone, croissants or white bread, along with anything nutty and/or grainy, is especially good.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 1 1/2-quart casserole or baking dish.
Place the bread cubes into the prepared pan. Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, syrup, sugar, flavoring, nutmeg, and salt together. Pour over the bread cubes and let sit for 15 minutes to absorb the liquid. Press the cubes down into the liquid if the edges are dry.
Bake the pudding for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the nuts and sugar. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until the pudding has puffed up and is light brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes-the pudding will sink as it sits; that's OK. Serve immediately, or reheat before serving.
Nutrition per serving (1 square, made with white bread, 130g): 300 cal, 15g fat, 7g protein, 35g total carbohydrate, 24g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 140mg cholesterol, 230mg sodium.