I’ve been baking as hobby for the past 15 years and I’ve just now made my first bread pudding. It’s kind of embarrassing, because bread pudding is one of those failproof, go-to desserts that most bakers keep in their arsenal, like a basic chocolate cake or sugar cookie. But I’ve actually got a pretty decent reason (excuse) for why it’s taken me this long to tackle this particular dessert – the thing is, I really, really love bread. If you set a loaf of bread in front of me, you should probably first hack off a couple slices for yourself, because no matter how large the loaf is, I am pretty much guaranteed to devour all of it. By myself. In one sitting. It’s like my hypothalamus (I’m so glad my four years of psychology didn’t go to waste) stops working whenever I’m around bread and I’ll just keep eating it until it’s gone. It’s rather impressive, really. On my resume, under Special Skills, it says able to consume an unlimited amount of baked yeasted dough. Come at me, recruiters!
I fancy myself the type of person who forgives and forgets, who lets bygones be bygones, the type of person who doesn’t wallow in the past. And for the most part, I am that person, except when it comes to two things:
- Matt Damon
- Discontinued breakfast cereals, namely Pop Tarts Crunch and French Toast Crunch
Of course, I’ll explain.
I have a deep, irrational hatred of Matt Damon, to the point where I can’t watch any of his movies, no matter how good they look or how talented the rest of the cast is (Elysium!! I don’t know if I could break my rule, not even for you). It’s because of Saving Private Ryan – specifically, because he got Vin Diesel killed in that movie. I have a serious soft spot for Vin Diesel. Come on, he was the Iron Giant, the Fast and Furious movies have gotten legitimately good, and the Riddick movies have some of the best one-liners ever (I have a line from the Chronicles of Riddick tattooed to my arm, because it’s badass and I’m ridiculous). Of all the soldiers who died to save Private Ryan, Vin Diesel shouldn’t have been one of them! Rant over.
The cereals I have a hard time talking about because I’m still really emotional about them, even almost 20 years later. Pop Tarts Crunch, the strawberry one, was honestly one of my favorite things in the world as a kid. That was probably when my obsession with foods that look like other foods began. They were just like strawberry Pop Tarts, but tiny and crunchy and adorable! They got discontinued in 1995, only a year after they came out and it devastated me. Thankfully, that same year, French Toast Crunch came out and it more or less filled the void left in my life by Pop Tarts Crunch. But of course, it also eventually got discontinued. You were right, Robert Frost – nothing gold can stay. All I’ve got left now is fond memories, and really hilarious Amazon reviews.
This turned into a long-winded ramble, as per usual, but I just really had to get that off my chest, okay?
Now, on to the muffins!
There are breads that are simple and no-frills, good for sandwiches and toast. And then there are breads that are stuffed, topped, and loaded with all the fixings, a solid meal in and of itself. This loaf falls squarely into the latter category.
Filled with dried cranberries (homemade!), chocolate chips, walnuts, and pecans, this bread makes for a great breakfast. It’s so hearty and substantial it doesn’t need any butter or jam (though some Nutella would really put this over the top). Just pop a couple of slices in the toaster and enjoy.
I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty awesome at eating bread. That part of the brain that tells you when you’re full and to stop eating – it basically shuts down when there is baked dough in front of me and as a result, I have, on more than one occasion, eaten an entire loaf in one day, if not one sitting. It’s just, so good, whether plain or toasted, with Nutella or jam, or loaded with fixin’s for a sandwich.
You are my favorite thing, bread. My very favorite thing. Side note: if you haven’t seen Fringe, you are seriously missing out. Once you get past season 1, which was, admittedly, pretty rough, it’s one of the most incredible shows, with brilliant acting and superb storytelling and oh god, why do I do this to myself, I am crying again just watching that scene and I think I need to do some emotional eating, so thank god I have this loaf of bread here.
Ignoring the fact that I get way too emotionally invested in TV shows, there’s really nothing like a fresh loaf of challah bread. Soft and sturdy and eggy and delicious, it’s perfectly complemented by a nice layer of jam and even better when made into french toast. Just try not to eat it all in one sitting.
I’ve got a new Christmas tradition and it’s this bread. I know everybody loves cinnamon rolls, but just look at this thing, it’s an absolute showstopper! It’s not much more work to make than cinnamon rolls, either, so if you’re looking to jazz things up next year (or whenever – this bread is so good you won’t want to wait for the holidays to make it), try this tasty wreath instead.