With crunchy bread on top and a delicate custard bottom, this bread pudding has a simple, bright, orange flavor. It is equally wonderful as a dessert or a decadent brunch treat. Udi’s sandwich bread works very well for this recipe, either the white or whole grain varieties. Of course, it can be made with regular bread too. I prefer to weigh ingredients when I bake, I find it easier and more fail-safe.
Cut the bread into ½-inch cubes (with the crusts on). Spread cubes out in an even layer on a baking sheet or jelly roll pan and toast at 325 degrees F for 5 minutes, just until bread cubes have dried out and have a hint of gold on the edges.
Combine the cream, milk and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and foam forms on top.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the hot cream, milk and sugar mixture to the eggs, in a slow, steady stream, constantly stirring. Whisk in, one at a time, the Grand Marnier, zest, orange juice, vanilla extract and salt.
Using a sprayed or buttered 12-muffin tin, an 8- x 8-inch baking pan, or a casserole dish, evenly distribute the bread cubes. Evenly pour or ladle the custard into the pan, covering the bread cubes. Push any bread that is not covered to absorb the custard.
Let stand refrigerated for 1 hour or longer, so the bread absorbs the custard mixture. If necessary, push the bread down into the pan once or twice after the mixture has had time to stand.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until set and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes for the muffins and about 45 minutes for a single pan. Use a toothpick to test for doneness: if it comes out clean, it’s done.
Allow to rest until cool enough to handle before serving or cutting.