1 large loaf of French bread (crustier = better, baguette +++++1)
5 large fresh eggs (best quality you can get since it’s such an important flavor)
2 cups heavy cream
…Either 2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon extract and the seeds from one vanilla pod
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon of orange zest (the zest of about one orange)
2 tablespoons of whiskey
1 stick of room temperature unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Candied bacon components:
1 pound of slab bacon cut into lardons
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
Cut the bread into 1/2 inch cubes the day before you make this and let set out overnight to get stale and dry.
Brown the bacon in a large skillet. The best way to do this is to put the bacon into a cold pan and then turn the heat up to medium low to slowly render out all of the fat. This will allow the bacon to get crispy.
Drain the bacon on paper towels. Either discard the bacon fat or, if you’re smart like me, strain it to remove any impurities and freeze it for future applications. ZOMFG.
In the same skillet, add the maple syrup and brown sugar and add the bacon back to the pan. Turn the heat as low as possible and allow the bacon to steep in the maple syrup mixture.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make your custard with the eggs, heavy cream, sugar, brown sugar, orange zest, whiskey, and salt by whisking vigorously until it’s one seamless, homogeneous mixture.
Grease a large baking dish with softened butter and layer the bread cubes and bacon. Pretend like you’re making the most amazing lasagna ever. Go ahead and dot the bread with some of your softened butter too.
Pour custard over the bread cubes and bacon. Push the bread down to immerse it in the custard. Allow to soak for ten minutes.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. For a topping I would recommend a basic pastry cream that has been thinned with whiskey and vanilla extract. Serve piping hot with large spoons, shovels if you have them.
Caleb is a food enthusiast, aspiring gastronome, and Ina Garten fanboy. His dream in life is to open a specialty foods store and catering service.