6cupsstale* ½-inch bread cubessuch as Italian, challah, or brioche
8ouncescream cheeseor Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature
½teaspoonpure vanilla extract
Place the oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, allowing the parchment paper to line the sides and hang over the edges as necessary. Trim the excess parchment to allow about 1-inch overhang on either side. Fill the pan with the stale/dry bread cubes. When you add the bread, it will weigh down the parchment. The overhang will allow you to easily remove the bread pudding from the pan for slicing.
In a mixing bowl, toss together the sliced strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. Allow the strawberries to macerate in the refrigerator for about an hour or longer until needed.
To a blender, add the cream cheese, milk, remaining ⅓ cup sugar, sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Puree until smooth. Add the eggs and blend again. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes, pressing down lightly with your hands or the back of a spoon and making sure that all the bread starts soaking in the custard. Soak for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the graham crackers in a plastic bag and smash them up by hand until you have a crumbly texture with a mixture of fine crumbs and some larger pea-sized chunks. Alternatively, pulse them in a food processor a few times to achieve the same texture (if you want to wash extra dishes *cough cough*). Mix the crushed graham crackers with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the top of the bread pudding.
Bake until the filling is set and the top is lightly browned, crusted, and puffed, about 30 to 35 minutes.
Allow the bread pudding to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then carefully remove the bread pudding from the pan using the parchment paper overhang, and place onto a cutting board. Allow the bread pudding to cool to room temperature (it will taste more like cheesecake if it isn’t warm). Use a serrated knife to cut the bread pudding into wedges (like a cake), and then serve with the macerated strawberries.
*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.