PINEAPPLE BREAD PUDDING

With Variations: Dessert, Side Dish, Breakfast Casserole

This is not a complicated or truly unique recipe - but let me tell you why I thought you might find it especially enjoyable. Certainly, it makes a lovely dessert - so appropriate for Easter and springtime, when we think of things to follow roasted ham and spring vegetables. (A scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the warm dessert provides an extra-special counterpoint.) But this might also be a side dish – in the way that stuffings with fruit make tasty side dishes. Another creative use (call it a Pineapple Breakfast Casserole or some such), would be to serve it as a breakfast dish. Present it from a single baking dish as described, or make individual dishes in one-cup soufflé dishes, or small baking dishes or ramekins of your choice.The dish can be made without the addition of milk, and will be crispy and not custard-like - OR you can soak the bread cubes in milk, for a more pudding-style result. [See the NOTE following the recipe.] My main-dish brunch presentation idea is to dust it, hot from the oven, with brown sugar (use a sieve or strainer and shake the sugar over the finished dish) and serve alongside some wonderful breakfast sausage and fresh fruit! An Easter morning or any-day occasion spring brunch!

SERVES 6
8 thick slices, day-old bread – cut into one-inch cubes
2 cups, drained crushed pineapple
1/2 cup (1 stick), unsalted butter – melted
3/4 cup (packed measure), brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
up to 3 cups, milk – optional[See NOTE following recipe]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 1 1/2 quart baking dish (or six, one-cup baking dishes as described above). Toss together the bread cubes and pineapple, and place the mixture in the prepared baking dish(es). In a mixing bowl, blend together the melted butter, the sugar and the eggs and pour the custard over the bread mixture. Baked until puffed and golden – about 40 minutes for full size, about 25 minutes for individual size. Serve immediately.

NOTE: for a more custard-like result, soak the bread cubes in milk for 1 hour before tossing the bread cubes with pineapple, then proceed with the recipe as written. Check to be sure the center is “set” before
removing from the oven. If a lot of milk is used, it may slightly increase the yield of the recipe.