I frequently have stale bread in my house as I try to make bread fresh almost every day. There are a few things that I regularly do with my bread, bread crumbs and Panzanella (which I did make today also and will blog about later) and every once in a while I'll make a strata.
I adore strata. A few years ago, a few months before we found out about the bee, the sailor and I went to Tahoe to go skiing. We stayed at this cute bed and breakfast that was run by a ski bum looking for work that would leave him plenty of ski time, and he came up with this strata. While The recipe isn't exactly his, it is a recreation of what he cooked. I've got one very important change, and that is the bread that I use as well as the sweetener. I only use freshly milled whole wheat bread, and honey as a sweetener in this dish and it is delightful
First you want your bread cut into bite sized cubes, and make sure the bread is stale, but not super hard. If you don't have stale bread you can cut your bread up the night before and leave it on a tray on your counter and you'll have stale bread cubes in the morning. Then you need to make a custard base.
Custard is quite possibly the most perfect food ever, and so very versatile. I usually have enough bread to fill a two quart casserole dish, so it usually takes about three large eggs, which usually equals around 3/4 of a cup of eggs. Mix that very will with 3/4 of a cup of milk. then soak your bread until all the custard is absorbed in the bread. If there is any dry or hard bread left, add more custard mix of equal parts of egg and whole milk. You want to make sure your bread is wholly saturated with the custard mixture.
I also sweeten this with honey, usually about 1/3 of a cup of raw wildflower or raw tupelo honey. Tupelo honey is delicious but hard to get outside of the Florida panhandle. It never crystallizes which is kinda nice. The reason I use honey is because it is much healthier for you than white or brown sugar, both of which we almost never use in our home. Though there is nothing in the world that will stand in for white sugar on creme brulee
Okay so you have your sweetened custardy bread and it is looking delightful in a bowl. Then you add a bag of frozen blueberries. I use frozen unthawed blueberries because you can find them year round, they are harvested right as they are ripe, and almost always taste better than the crappy berries you can find in the store fresh, plus they are usually cheaper!
Then add a weird ingredient, but it works so well. Shredded or chunked swiss cheese. Yup, swiss cheese. The kind with the holes and a slightly sweetly sour bite. Aged swiss is best. Today I used Jarlsburg because that is what I had on hand.
Mix it up, and bake in a 2 qt casserole pan on 350 for about 1 hour. Then remove the cover and let the top get all crispy and bubbly. It will rise when it is in the oven and puff up. Serve with vanilla yogurt or heavy cream. Also yummy with some maple syrup.