Maple Bacon Bread-Pudding

DSC01357Sundays were my least favorite day of the week growing up. With no sports activities or school, they were just plain boring to me. But now I cherish Sundays. I wholeheartedly embrace boredom. Especially this time of the year. Sunday is my one day of the week  to sleep in, enjoy an indulgent breakfast, and read the newspaper in my pajamas—sometimes all day. Certainly it doesn’t happen every Sunday, but those are the Sundays I now cherish most.

This past Sunday I enjoyed a particularly indulgent breakfast—Maple Bacon Bread-Pudding, a puffy egg bake that is everything you could ever ask for in a breakfast—sweet, savory, bacon, eggs, and french toast, all in one magical dish. I cut the recipe in half to serve two and still had leftovers for the past two days. I assembled the dish the night before, so on Sunday morning, all I had to do was pop it in the oven. I figured it was a special enough dish to break out the homemade jar of maple syrup that our friends Dan and Dione gave us last spring—made with sap from maple trees in their backyard!

Maple Bacon Bread-Pudding (from Zoe Nathan via Food & Wine, serves 8-10)

1 pound thick-cut bacon
Unsalted butter, for greasing
17 large eggs
1 cup crème fraîche
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 3/4 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup pure maple syrup, plus more for serving
1 1/2 pounds brioche (3 small loaves), crusts discarded and loaves sliced 1 inch thick
Chopped toasted pecans, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon on it in a single layer. Bake the bacon for 25 to 30 minutes, until it is browned and nearly crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and cool, then coarsely chop it.

Meanwhile, butter a 9-by-13-inch ceramic baking dish. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the crème fraîche, sugar, vanilla seeds and salt, then beat in the half-and-half and the 3/4 cup of maple syrup.

Layer half of the brioche slices in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with half of the chopped bacon. Repeat the layering with the remaining brioche and bacon. Pour the custard over the brioche and gently press the bread into the custard. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Uncover the bread pudding and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, until puffed and the center is just set. Let stand for 15 minutes. Serve with chopped pecans and maple syrup.

Make Ahead: The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight.

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