Inspired by my latest obsession, Atayef bil Ashta, this month’s bread pudding is scented with rose and orange blossom and finished with a crunchy pistachio topping. It’s incredibly simple, almost a basic bread pudding except that the custard is perfumed with typical Middle Eastern flavor components. This is a great use for leftover rose and orange blossom syrup from my previous post. It does the job of sugar, but adds a whole lot of flavor as well. I opted to make individual puddings, which yielded a lovely and rustic presentation without making a mess of the pistachios on top for portioning out servings.
Rose and Orange Blossom Bread Pudding
Unsalted butter, for ramekins
5 to 6 cups stale* 1/2-inch bread cubes
2 cups milk
1/2 cup rose and orange blossom syrup
1 T. rose water
1 T. orange blossom water
1/2 cup shelled pistachio nuts
Place the oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter 6 (1 cup) ramekins, place them on a baking sheet, and arrange the stale bread cubes evenly between the ramekins.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl with a whisk. Whisk in milk, rose and orange blossom syrup (recipe available in Atayef bil Ashta post), rose water, and orange blossom water. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes in the baking dish, pressing down with the back of a spoon or your hands and making sure that all the bread gets submerged and starts soaking in the custard.
Soak for 20 to 30 minutes and then top with the pistachios. Bake until the filling is set and the top is crusted and puffed, about 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
*If your bread isn’t very stale, cut it into cubes and allow the bread cubes to dry out at room temperature all day or overnight. Alternatively, lightly toast them on a sheet pan in a 350 degree F oven until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes.