Panettone Bread Pudding

One thing I look forward to during Christmas season is panettone bread.  And when I see that familiar box I think of French toasts and bread pudding right away.  I make bread pudding all the time using different types of stale or even fresh bread but panettone bread has it all- raisins, cranberries and other dried fruits and it also comes with chocolate chips.  All I need is custard mix and I'm good to go.  When it's almost done, I love brushing the top with maple syrup for a shiny finish.  Some likes it warm but I prefer it cold or at room temperature.   Here's how to make it.

Panettone Bread Pudding
panettone bread about 1.2 lb
unsalted butter, for greasing the dish
3 extra-large whole eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup sugar
Maple syrup for the top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Trim the dark brown outer crust from the panettone and then cut the rest of the bread into 1-inch cubes.
Spread on a sheet pan and toast for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Grease a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish with butter. 
Place the panettone cubes in the baking dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, vanilla and almond extracts and sugar. 
Pour the custard mixture over the panettone. Set aside for 10 minutes or so gently pushing the bread pieces down to soak up the custard. 
Place the baking dish into a larger pan and add very hot tap water to the larger pan until about halfway up the side of the baking dish. Cover with greased aluminum foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. 
Bake the pudding from 45-50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes until the custard is set and the top is light golden brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Brush the top with maple syrup for a shiny finish.  Serve warm or at room temperature with with coffee or tea.


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