Sunday, May 06, 2012

Pineapple Orange Coconut Bread Pudding

When I first moved to Chicago one of my co-workers was kind enough to invite me to her house for Easter dinner. I had only been in town for about a month and knew no one, so it was very nice of her. Her niece even colored an egg especially for me, which I took home with me and kept in my refrigerator for the next several years (no, I don't know why.)

Easter dinner was about what you would expect: ham, bean casserole, potatoes. But there was also a bread pudding, made with mandarin oranges and pineapples, that was delicious, and as sweet as a dessert. It worked perfectly with the ham. I fell in love with it, and would have eaten it all if I thought I could get away with it. At my request she gave me the recipe, and I have held onto it all these years, even though I never made it.

I finally decided to make it last year. But when I looked at the ingredient list, I just could not do it.
1/2 cup butter
1-1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
8 slices firm white bread, cubed
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
The eggs and the butter were what I would expect for this dish, but that is a lot of sugar (on which more in a later post), I no longer eat white bread, and I can't remember the last time I bought canned fruit of any kind.

I became obsessed with the idea that I could healthy up this dish. I decided to use whole wheat bread, so I used cream instead of butter, to make more of a custard. I used fresh pineapple and mandarin oranges, and I cut the sugar down to 1/4 cup. The coconut was a flash of inspiration sparked by the fact that I had some in my freezer and was trying to think of something to sprinkle on top for a little extra crispness. And even though it isn't really a dessert, I added vanilla and a pinch of nutmeg to bring out the other flavors.

On my first attempt, I mixed everything together and baked it right away , but the whole wheat bread was too dense to soak up much of the egg/cream mixture and I didn't add the vanilla, nutmeg or coconut. It tasted all right, but it did not hold together and there was a certain flatness to me that was confirmed by a co-worker who was kind enough to taste test it for me. We both agreed that it had possibilities but needed more flavor, and I knew I had to let it soak longer before I put it into the oven.

For my next attempt I added the vanilla and nutmeg and mixed everything together and put it into the refrigerator the night before I was going to bake it. The next morning I let it come to room temperature while the oven was preheating, sprinkled more coconut over the top, and put it in the oven. The result was quite delicious, if I do say so myself.

If you are looking for a fancy breakfast bread option to serve on a special occasion, this is a healthier option that tastes delicious and would work well with a frittata, quiche, or even just scrambled eggs and ham.

And if you still want to make the original version, just mix together the ingredients above and bake in a 350 deg. F. oven for 50 to 60 minutes.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Serves 9 as a side dish

8 slices whole wheat bread, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup cream at room temperature
3/4 cup fresh pineapple, diced
3/4 cup fresh mandarin orange segments
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, plus more for topping
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Dash of freshly ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp brown sugar, for topping

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream until well blended. Add the pineapple, orange, coconut, salt, vanilla and nutmeg and mix well.

Add the bread to the bowl and mix well. Pour into a well-greased 9 x 12-inch baking dish and cover. Refrigerate overnight.

Take the casserole out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature while the oven is preheating to 350 deg. F. Uncover and sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons of the coconut and the tablespoon of brown sugar over the top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the coconut is toasted and the casserole has set. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving, but it is best at room temperature.


Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

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