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Bread pudding grandmother never dreamed of.

Once a frugal vehicle for leftovers, bread pudding gets a new countenance in this dessert. It bears some semblance to old-fashioned bread pudding, but its modest appearance belies the elegantly smooth custard texture.

Start this dessert at least a day, or even 2 days, ahead. You heat the cream with vanilla bean to get the full benefit of the flavoring. The pudding is best if it stands overnight before baking so the bread can soak up liquid. Then, so the pudding will slice well, it must be chilled thoroughly. Loaf of Bread Pudding

5 eggs

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1 piece vanilla bean, 2 to 3 inches

1 quart half-and-half (light cream)

1 large (about 1 lb.) baguette

Plumped prunes (recipe follows)

In a bowl, beat eggs, egg yolks, and sugar to blend; set aside.

Cut a lengthwise slit in vanilla bean and put into a 2- to 3-quart pan along with hald-and-half. Cook, stirring, over medium heat just until cream begins to simmer. Lift out bean and scrape seeds into milk. (To save bean to reuse, rinse, let dry, and store in a covered jar of sugar--vanilla also flavors sugar.)

With a wire whisk, beat hot cream into egg mixture. Let cool slightly.

Cut baguette in half lengthwise and pull soft insides out in small pieces; you need 4 cups. (Reserve crust for other ues, such as bread crumbs.) Line bottom of a 5- by 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Lightly pat half of the bread in an even layer in pan. Arrane 10 prunes down the center of brad; pat remaining bread in an even layer on top. Pour in egg mixture (bread with float). Cove and chill at least 8 hours or as long as overnight.

Set loaf pan in a larger pan (at least 9 by 13 in.). Pour in boiling water to 1-inch depth. Bake, uncovered, in a 325[deg.] oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool, cover, and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.

To unmold, run a sharp knife around edges. Inert onto a baking sheet and peel off parchment paper. Set serving platter on top and inert again. Garnish with remaining prunes. Cut into 1-inch-thick slices. If desired, spoon prune liquid around servings. Serves 10.--Michael Roberts, Los Angeles.

Plumped prunes. In a 1- to 2-quart pan, boil 1 cup wate rand 1/2 cup sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add 18 to 20 pitted prunes and 1 lemon, thinly sliced; remove from heat. If desired, add 1/2 cup peach- or orange-flavored liqueur. Cover and let stand at room temperature at least 3 hours; or cover and chill up to 1 week. Before using, discard lemon slices.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipe
Date:Apr 1, 1984
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