Greek Pascha is the holiday which keeps on giving…leftovers. One of the things that our Easter season seems to leave us with plenty of is tsoureki, and we’re thrilled. It seems that most Greek homes bake a huge number of these sweet loaves during this holiday season, many of which are then are gifted to family and friends. If you are Greek however, you usually end up receiving as many tsourekia as you give away; you end up breaking even! Good problems to have!
But so many loaves of delicious Easter bread means that it is time to get creative, simply. The easiest thing to do of course is to wrap your excess tsourekia tightly in plastic wrap, place them in a freezer bag and freeze them for when the urge hits. Another option, equally simple but slightly more time consuming, is to cut your tsoureki into biscotti-like pieces and bake them at a low temperature, for a long time. This will draw out the excess moisture and leave you with a crunchy cookie, perfect for dunking into your Greek coffee. Kept in a sealed container, tsoureki prepared this way will keep for a very long time (but you’ll never really know how long, because they won’t last long enough for you to find out). Then of course, there is the delicious tsoureki french toast. We were so pleased to see how much joy this recipe brought to people when we first posted it last year. Yeah! It is truly delicious. But now, for something more. Here we show you how to use your tsoureki to make a bread pudding, and we really think you should!
Bread puddings are usually best made with bread which had gone just a little bit stale. That’s because the drier the crumb, the easier it is for the bread to soak up the egg and milk mixture, without dissolving into mush. So, choose a tsoureki that is either a little stale for this recipe, or select one from your pile which naturally has a drier and denser consistency.
Your bread pudding will only be as good as the tsoureki you use. Although we have rarely met a tsoureki we didn’t like, the fact is that some loaves are more flavourful than others (acknowledging of course, that different people have different tastes). For us, the perfect tsoureki has both masticha and mahlepi in the dough; flavours which, when backed together, fill the entire house with the sweet smells of our childhood, family and love. There is nothing better. If you are looking for a tsoureki recipe, you can follow the link to ours by clicking here. Otherwise, you choose from what you have on hand, or refer to your own favourite recipe.
When you toast your cubes of tsoureki you must be careful that they do not burn. You will notice that on your baking sheet you will have several crumbs, and due to their small size, these will most definitely burn. For this reason, do not transfer the toasted tsoureki into the baking pan by simply tilting your baking sheet and pouring it all in; you will add the crumbs this way. Instead, use your fingers to pick up the cubes of toasted tsoureki and transfer them that way. This is a good way to make sure you don’t include any burnt pieces, and it’s also a good way to easily pop a few pieces in your mouth…to test for deliciousness.
You can substitute the milk used in this recipe for heavy cream, either in the bread pudding itself, the sauce, or both. This will turn a rich dish, into something decadent. We are all for decadent. However, we are also into easy, and we’re going to assume that most people, like us, always have milk in their refrigerators, but cream only occasionally.
The sauce uses just a touch of Metaxa, a Greek spirit which is simply perfect. A small amount gives a lovely flavour and aroma to your sauce, making this bread pudding that much more special. If you don’t have Metaxa, or would prefer not to use alcohol, you can substitute it for orange juice.
We used a 9 x 12 inch baking pan to make this bread pudding, but you can choose to use a smaller pan in order to end up with a higher pudding. In choosing your pan just be sure that it is large enough to accommodate all of your ingredients. The total cooking time should not change too much; in order to check for doneness simply insert a toothpick into the center of the bread pudding and it should come out clean.
Tsoureki bread pudding is great as a dessert, part of a brunch buffet or as a sweet breakfast. In fact, we think it may be equally good for lunch, dinner or a midnight snack. We’ll look into that…and get back to you. 🙂
Mia Kouppa: Tsoureki bread pudding
- 8 cups tsoureki, cut into bite sized cubes
- 4 eggs
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- small amount of butter for greasing the pan For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon Metaxa
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spread your cubed tsoureki onto 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes, stirring mid-way through and being careful not to burn your bread.
- Remove the tsoureki from the oven and transfer the toasted cubes into a greased baking pan.
- In another bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. Pour this evenly over the tsoureki. Cover your baking pan with plastic wrap, allowing it to lay directly onto the tsoureki. Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the plastic wrap from your baking pan and bake your bread pudding in the middle rack of your oven for approximately 45 minutes. If the top begins to brown before your bread pudding is done, simply cover it loosely with tin foil.
- Meanwhile, approximately 5 – 10 minutes before your bread pudding is due to come out of the oven, prepare your sauce.
- Melt the butter and then combine it with the milk. Stir well. Add the icing sugar and Metaxa and whisk well until the sauce is smooth and uniform. It will be rather thin.
- Serve your bread pudding warm, drizzle each portion with a little bit, or a lot, of the sauce. Enjoy!