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A Delicious Mistake

December 7th, 2010

On Saturday I decided to bake up a batch of cranberry rolls just for Mr Chiots’ arrival home from his week of hunting. He loves these and would be thrilled to have some when he got home. These are a delicious way to use up some of that extra cranberry apple relish you have sitting in the fridge from Thanksgiving. I made a batch of dough, rolled it out, filled it with cranberry relish, put them in a pan and whacked them in the oven. They smelled fantastic while baking.

Then it all went south (no offense to those of you who live in the South). I always use a thermometer to determine when my bread is finished, especially rolls. I like to bake them to about 185, when they’ll be slightly doughy, but not too much. I like them this way and I find that they stay fresh longer. I pulled out my thermometer to test the dough and it only registered 85. “Weird!” I thought, “they’ve been in long enough” (note to self, always trust instincts). I put them back in the oven for 10 more minutes then checked them again, still not much warmer. It was then I noticed that the thermometer had been switched to Celsius. I switched it quickly back and it registered over 210 – too high for soft rolls.

I let them cool hoping for the best, but they were too dry and the edges were extremely crispy. They were OK, still edible if we wanted to eat them, but not the culinary delight I was hoping for. I suddenly remembered a recipe for plum bread pudding in The River Cottage Cookbook (fabulous book BTW, if you want a great read about growing/raising your own quality food with cheeky UK humor read this book, I’m thoroughly enjoying it).

These rolls would make the best bread pudding ever, with their rich sweet dough, the cranberries and ginger already inside. I followed the recipe for the most part, steeping the milk & cream with a vanilla bean and some cinnamon sticks, I added a few more spoonfuls of cranberries in with the torn bread. I reduced the sugar by half, since I was using sweet bread and I don’t like my food to be too sweet. I doubled the recipe below to use up the entire batch of rolls.

Cranberry Bread Pudding
(adapted from The River Cottage Cookbook)

1 small loaf of stale bread (or in this case a half a batch of rolls)
2 cups of whole milk
3/4 cup cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
3 sticks of cinnamon
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
Cranberry relish left over from Thanksgiving (about 1 cup or more to taste)
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

Split vanilla bean lengthwise and place it in pan with milk and cream along with cinnamon sticks. Bring them almost to a boil, turn off heat, allow to steep for 20-30 minutes.

In large bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until thoroughly blended. Remove vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks from milk (you can rinse and use again for mulling cider, flavoring sugar, etc). Pour the cream and milk slowly into the egg mixture stirring with whisk to combine into a well-blended custard.

Cut bread into slices or tear into large chunks. Layer in buttered tall casserole dish, occasionally adding small spoonfuls of cranberry relish and sprinkling in crystallized ginger as you fill dish.

Pour the custard slowly over the bread moving around the dish, work slowly so it is absorbed. Let dish rest for 30 minutes while preheating oven to 350.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the custard is just set but still slightly wobbly (you can test with knife to see if it’s done). Serve while warm. It’s also delicious cold the next day.


It baked up into the most wonderfully delicious breakfast. Crispy on the outside and on top, rich and gooey on the inside, like good custardy french toast *only better*. It could be topped with some vanilla sauce if desired, but that would make it sweeter and much closer to a dessert than a good hearty breakfast.

My over baked rolls turned into the most delicious mistake, better than the intended recipe – here’s to making most of a bad thing!

Have you ever made the most of a cooking mistake and ended up with something far better with a little creativity?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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