Notes: I made a half recipe of the cornbread (one 9×5" loaf) earlier in the evening, letting it cool for a bit, then slicing it in large pieces to cool even further. I also made a half recipe of the custard, which is sweetened mostly with maple syrup and flavoured with vanilla and orange zest. The original recipe calls for using day-old bread (as is usually the case with French toast or other bread puddings) but fresh cornbread turned out fine. The pieces of bread stuck out quite high above my baking dish and got a little crusty. After over an hour and a half, the custard was still a bit runny, but I let it sit overnight to cool. In the morning it had set more firmly; the custard is almost completely absorbed by the cornbread though. In a talk I attended earlier this week, Michael Pollan said that the average American consumes 25% of their calories from sugar. So I opted not to serve the bread pudding with additional maple syrup, but it didn't need it. The cornbread soaked up all the wonderfully perfumed custard, but still had a little crunch from the browned pieces on top and the grains of cornmeal.
95% of the recipes I've made from this book are ones that I would repeat. In The Sweet Kitchen has inventive and delicious ideas that are always well-balanced. I was disappointed to find out, however, that Ms. Daley is not doing pastry in any Toronto-area restaurants (she used to make desserts at Avalon). Sigh, one can only hope for another book of recipes.
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