White: A sinfully delicious doughnut bread pudding

One of the habits I have pretty much curtailed is doughnuts.

I do love doughnuts. As a matter of fact, on a warm and sunny day in August of 2004 I was sidelined with a brain aneurysm by coffee and a doughnut just after my husband and I had stopped at Dunkin' Donuts on the way to a high school mini-reunion in Troy, N.Y.

But that isn't why I stopped scarfing down doughnuts (The truth is, I haven't completely stopped eating them. I just don't go out and buy them for myself anymore.)

What I've decided is that not all doughnuts are worth the calories. Unfortunately, there are some that are worthy.

On Thursday mornings, I work at my dentist's office and I bring the group doughnuts. On one particular Thursday, I had to drive my aging Subaru for service in Franklin.

On the way I spotted Dixie Donuts in Norwich and bought two dozen - one for the service people at Holmgren and the second to take to my workplace. I ate one and I was hooked.

So, on Thursday mornings now, I drive to Norwich for the doughnuts and take them to the office.

One Thursday a sign at Dixie went up - the shop would be closed the next week for vacation. Horrors. So the next week I stopped at Flanders Bake Shop in East Lyme.

My dentist remarked these doughnuts are as good as Dixie's. I think he is wrong, but they are very, very good.

On a recent visit to the doughnut shop, I noticed there were four enormous day-old coffee-roll-type doughnuts at half price. I bought all four and let them get staler.

Then I made doughnut bread pudding. I tasted a tablespoon of the warm pudding, it was luscious, then took it to the neighbors next door.

Doughnut Bread Pudding

Yield: serves 4 to 6

4 to 6 big, somewhat stale glazed coffee rolls (yeasty spirals filled with cinnamon and sugar)

5 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

4 to 5 cups of milk (whole or 2 percent)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla or almond extract

1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon or rum (optional)

one-half cup dried cherries, blueberries or currants, or raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with a rack in the center. Butter a 9- by 13-inch glass or gratin pan and set aside.

In a big bowl, mix together eggs, milk, extract and liquor. Cut the doughnuts into 1-inch chunks and gently fold them and the fruit into the egg-milk concoction. Let doughnuts steep in the milk mixture for 30 to 60 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, place the pan into a larger (roasting-type) pan; place into preheated oven. Pour very hot water into the roasting pan until the water comes about one-quarter to one-half full.

Bake until pudding is just set in the middle, usually about an hour.

Remove the roasting pan carefully from the oven. Again, carefully, remove glass pan or gratin pan and place on a wire rack. The pudding can be served hot, room temperature or from the refrigerator with whipped cream, ice cream, chocolate sauce or just by itself.

Nibbles

One day I decided that I wanted pasta for dinner. But I wanted something in the marinara sauce I make that takes less time than boiling the water for the pasta. Peering into the freezer, I saw a package of six merguez sausages I had bought from D'Artagnan at least four years ago. The sausages are made with lamb and are fiery hot.

I thawed them in the microwave, then sauteed them in a big skillet. When crispy, I put them aside, put the grease in an old coffee can and made the marinara in the same frying pan.

When warm, I cut up the sausages and dropped them into the sauce. Once the rigatoni was al dente (I had used 8 ounces of pasta), I drained the water and added it into the sauce.

It was not wildly spicy and the dish made for two more meals. You might want to buy some of these sausages on-line if you can't find them in a local supermarket.

D'Artagnan, Inc.

280 Wilson Ave.

Newark, N.J. 07105

800-327-8246

www.d'artagnan.com

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