The title alone drew me to this recipe: a Tartine recipe, for a savoury bread pudding. I love the savoury version of things over the sweet, almost without exception. And though I’ve yet to visit San Francisco, the city’s own Tartine Bakery’s reputation spread like wildfire and people gush about their bread. This recipe is from Tartine co-owner, Chad Robinson’s book Tartine Bread. Of course he suggests that you actually make Tartine bread for this bread pudding, and the recipe for it is within the book as well. Of course you really don’t have to go to all that trouble, although I did make the trek to a stellar local bakery to get some quality bread for this recipe.
I adapted the recipe to make it vegetarian by excluding the smoked ham originally called for. To account for that smokiness, I added some smoked Gruyere cheese to the mix which worked wonderfully. There was a depth and hickory flavour to the bread pudding that it would be a shame to miss by simply omitting the smoked ham and not adding the smoked cheese.
It’s the kind of recipe that I knew would be dangerous to make for our party of only two. With 5 eggs, cream and full-fat milk, we really should have had dinner guests over to share with. I thought of that with plenty of time for an invite. And then I thought about really good bread absorbing that eggy custard that would puff up like a soufflé…and I opted to keep as much of it to myself as possible. Sometimes, I tell you too much.
Original recipe note: You can assemble the dish a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator, letting it come to room temperature before baking. Bake the pudding an hour before you want to serve it.
*YS note: The original recipe calls for 3 oz of smoked ham, which I substituted with 3 oz of smoked Gruyere, in this vegetarian version. I also used some crimini mushrooms to augment the wild mushrooms (oyster and shiitake) I used. If you are using any button or criminis, which let off much more liquid, sauté these mushrooms first, pour off any liquid they release, then continue to brown them before adding more oil and proceeding with the rest of the mushrooms as indicated in the recipe, below.
For the filling
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped
½ c. dry white wine
2 lbs. assorted *mushrooms (like chanterelles and porcini), stems trimmed and caps halved
1 head Treviso or other radicchio, leaves separated
For the custard
5 large eggs
½ tsp. salt
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
½ c. grated Gruyere or cheddar cheese
3 oz. smoked Gruyere, grated or, if using slices, chopped
2 slices good, day-old, rustic bread, torn into large chunks
½ c. grated Gruyere or cheddar cheese
1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and saute until soft, 6-8 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine evaporates, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. (*See headnote re. mushrooms.) Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is smoking, arrange the mushrooms cut-side down in the pan and cook without stirring until seared and caramelized, about 1 minute more. Stir the mushrooms, add the radicchio, and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Season to taste. Remove from heat.
3. Preheat the oven to 375º.
4. To make the custard, in a bowl, whisk the eggs and salt until well blended. Add the cream, milk, pepper, nutmeg, thyme, both cheeses and whisk to combine.
5. Place the bread chunks in an 8-inch souffle dish and add the leeks, mushrooms, and radicchio. Pour in the custard so that it comes all the way to the rim. Sprinkle evenly with the grated cheese. Let stand 8-10 minutes until the custard saturates the bread.
6. Put the souffle dish on a baking sheet to catch any spill-over. Bake until the custard is no longer runny in the center, about 50 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.