A few weeks ago the kind folks from Panera Bread emailed me and asked if I'd like to be part of their blog program. My reply? Yes! Then I further read they'd give me free baked goods, and pay me.
Seriously?! Sign. Me.Up.
Mr. Baird and I love Panera Bread, and we have spent many a rainy Sunday morning there sipping coffee, eating bagels and reading the paper. Mornings are my favorite time to go there because it's usually busy but peaceful. People are quietly chatting or on their laptops taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi. It's obviously no secret that good coffee and a pastry is the best way to start the day!
Two days ago I found myself standing in front of Panera Bread's fully loaded bakery case- wide-eyed, hungry and indecisive. I saw some old favorites like the cream cheese danish and chocolate filled pasty. A big plate of fluffy croissants and an even bigger plate of giant cinnamon rolls were calling my name. Alas, it was the artisan breads that got me hook, line and sinker. I bought four loaves, throwing carb-caution to the wind.
The cinnamon raisin bread was destined for a bread pudding the moment I laid eyes on it. See that crust? That's baked-on cinnamon-sugary goodness running down the middle!
The first step of this recipe is to coat 5 pieces of the cinnamon raisin bread in a prepared caramel sauce. Sprinkle with sea salt and put under the broiler until bubbly. I could have easily abandoned the rest of this recipe and eaten a few pieces of salted caramel cinnamon-raisin bread (say that 10 times fast, hehe).
Oh, how I wanted to, but I didn't...
...because in the end you get this, and it is well worth waiting for.
Want more of the low-down on what Panera has to offer? Check out Panerabread.com and follow them on Facebook or Twitter. In-store, definitely pick up a MyPanera card then register it online, there are bonuses and freebies to be had!
Salted Caramel Bread Puddings [click to print]
5 pieces of Panera Bread's Cinnamon Raisin Bread
12 oz. jar of prepared caramel sauce
Sea salt for sprinkling
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp melted butter (to grease ramekins)
Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and place the 5 pieces of bread on, spacing evenly. Spoon 1 tablespoon of prepared caramel over each piece of bread, then sprinkle with sea salt. Place under the broiler until browned and bubbling for 1-2 minutes - keep a careful eye on this, it will burn quickly! Remove and let cool.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Butter (4) 1/2 cup ramekins. Cut each broiled bread slice into 6 pieces and place snugly in ramekins. Whisk together eggs, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla. Pour mixture to the top of each ramekin, then set them in a large roasting pan. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted comes clean. Remove from pan, and place on a baking sheet. Top with remaining caramel sauce and sprinkle with sea salt. Set under the broiler for one or two more minutes, or until caramel sauce is bubbling.
Serve plain or with ice cream.