Panettone Bread Pudding from the AUTENTICO cookbook
"If you receive too many panettoni for the holidays, this bread pudding is an ideal place to put them to use. Since the bread is quite sweet, whipped cream, gelato, or even a dusting of zucchero al velo (confectioner's sugar) can be too much. Instead, a spoonful of amarena (sour) cherries makes a nice finish."
-Rolando Beramendi in AUTENTICO: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
On a large baking sheet, arrange the panettone cubes in a single layer. Toast in the oven until light brown, using tongs to gently toss the pieces, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside to cool. Do not turn off the oven.
Pour 1 cup sugar into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Wearing oven mitts, place the pan over medium heat. Swirl the pan continuously, until the sugar melts and turns caramel in color, about 5 minutes. Take care; the sugar will be extremely hot! Once the sugar is caramelized evenly on the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and set the pan aside on a wire rack. As the caramel cools, it will make cracking sounds.
In a large saucepan, whisk together milk, eggs, the remaining 1 cup sugar, and the vanilla until it is smooth and frothy, like eggnog, and heat over medium heat until you see a little steam rising, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Place a baking dish large enough to hold the baking pan on the lower rack of the oven. Carefully fill the baking dish with 1 inch of hot water to create steam.
Gently arrange the panettone cubes inside the baking pan on top of the caramel, taking care not to break it. Slowly ladle the milk-egg mixture over the panettone pieces to soak them. Use the back of a spoon to submerge the cubes in the milk-egg mixture. Place the mold in the baking dish with the hot water and bake until the bread pudding is firm to the touch when gently pressed, about 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool on a wire rack. Once cool, place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 day and up to 3 days before unmolding.
When you are ready to unmold the budino, remove the pan from the refrigerator and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. Set the pan in a deep skillet and fill the skillet with water. Bring to a boil—the caramel will make cracking sounds as it warms up. Run a dinner knife around the edge of the budino di panettone and, after 30 to 45 seconds, remove the pan from the water. Place a large serving dish with slanted edges on top of the mold, and, wearing oven mitts, flip the mold over and with on big colpo (forceful shake), release the cake from the pan. Reheat the mold in the water-filled skillet to melt any remaining caramel and pour the caramel over the budino. Set the unmolded budino di panettone aside to cool.
Serve at room remperature or cover the budino lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight before serving so it doesn't dry out.
Recipe from AUTENTICO: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way by Rolando Beramendi