Bread pudding with cornbread experiment--lab notebook
Over the blizzard weekend, I made a big pot of chili and two eight-inch cake pans of cornbread (the latter from the *Best Recipe* recipe--one whole batch, which was supposed to go in a 9" square metal pan, split between the two 8" round pans that I had). Yesterday, I was looking at a whole round of slightly stale cornbread. Hmm, I thought, pondering the New England traditional dessert "Indian pudding," I wonder if you can make bread pudding with cornbread.
(Perhaps this is old hat to most people, or maybe it was the number one fad dessert in upscale restaurants in the fall of 1991, but it seemed like an original idea to me.)
So I got what looked like the simplest bread pudding recipe from Epicurious ("Toasted Bread and Butter Pudding") and followed it, only subbing in my cornbread cut in 1/2" wedges for its six 1/2" slices of "firm white sandwich bread," and adding a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, minced, to the custard, since cornmeal and ginger seemed to go well together in my imagination.
Anyway, for anyone who has ever wondered whether you can make bread pudding with leftover cornbread, the answer is yes. It tastes delicious (I served it with vanilla ice cream and maple-caramel sauce). The only thing I would do differently next time would be to make the cornbread soak up more liquid, perhaps by putting another baking dish topped with something heavy on top of the assembled pudding and letting it sit for a while before baking. As it was, the cornbread slices floated to the top of the custard, giving a two-tiered result, with puddingy bread on top and a shallow pure-custard layer on the bottom. (This might also have been because I didn't de-crust the cornbread, as the recipe instructs you to do with the sandwich bread.)
In short, I recommend it!