Perfect Dumpling Sauce

1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon chili oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar in 1 tablespoon hot water. Then add soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili oil, minced garlic, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. Stir to combine.

Serve with freshly cooked dumplings.

Sichuan Chili Oil

3/4 cup peanut oil (175g)
1 tbsp Sichuan pepper
2 dried chilis, chopped

Heat the wok and add in the oil. When the oil is hot add in the chopped chilies and sichuan peppers. Cook over low heat for 10 mins.

When cooled to room temperature, put in a sterilized covered glass jar.

We decided to keep the chilies and pepper in but if you like you can strain them out after 3 days and just keep the chili oil.

Store in a sterilized covered jar in a dark, cool closet for up to 6 months.

Pin Noodles

1 1/2 cup wheat starch, 200g
1 cup plus 2 tbsp rice flour, 184 g
6 tbsp tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups hot boiling water

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together except the water in a large mixing bowl. Add in boiling water and stir until the water is all mixed in and the texture is crumbly. Wait until cool enough to handle, sprinkle working surface with flour and knead into a soft pliable dough. Separate into 9 equal parts and with your palms roll each part into 1/2″ thick rolls, then cut into 1/4″ slices. This portion of dough, when hand rolled, will make a noodle about 2″ long. If you want longer noodles adjust the thickness of the slices.

Place one piece of dough in the palm of your hands and roll into a 2″ length noodle, letting the middle of the dough plump up and the ends to taper. Place rolled noodles into a tray that has been dusted with flour.

When all noodles are made, heat a pot of water, adding 1 tsp of oil. When the water is boiling add in the noodles. When the noodles float back to the surface remove and rinse immediately in cold water and then drain thoroughly. Your noodles are now ready cooking in whatever wonderful noodle dish you have planned!

If not using right away, carefully stir in a tiny bit of oil to prevent noodles from sticking together and store airtight in the refrigerator for up to a week. Enjoy!

Pressure Cooked Eggs

Prepare an ice bath.

Place trivet in pot.

Pour in 1 cup of water.

Place eggs on trivet.

For soft boiled “dippy” eggs, set pressure cooker to low pressure (4 psi) and quick release. Cook for 2 minutes. As soon as the pressure releases, plunge eggs into an ice bath. Peel when cool.

For jammy yolks or soy eggs, set pressure cooker to low pressure (4 psi) and quick release. Cook for 3 minutes. As soon as the pressure releases, plunge eggs into an ice bath. Peel when cool.

For slightly soft yolks, set pressure cooker to medium-low pressure (6) and quick release. Cook for 2 minutes. As soon as the pressure releases, plunge eggs into an ice bath. Peel when cool.

For set yolks, set pressure cooker to medium-low pressure (6) and quick release. Cook for 4 minutes. As soon as the pressure releases, plunge eggs into an ice bath. Peel when cool.

Perfect Brown Rice

1 cup short, medium, or long-grain brown rice
Kosher salt, to taste

Rinse rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Bring 12 cups water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Add the rice, stir it once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer over the sink.

Let the rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot, off the heat. Cover the pot and set it aside to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover the rice, fluff with a fork, and season with salt.

Chinese Egg Noodles

16 oz bread flour
1 tsp salt
4 egg yolks from large eggs beaten
4 oz water (added gradually; start with this amount)

PREPARE DOUGH USING A STANDMIXER:
Mix the flour with salt in a mixing bowl of stand mixer or large mixing bowl.

Attached a dough hook and run it on low to medium speed (speed 4 on kitchen aid) and gradually add in the water until the dough come together and let it knead until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. You may need to add more water, you may not. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.

PREPARE DOUGH BY HANDS:
Mix the flour with salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a small well in the middle and add in beaten egg yolks.

Add a bit more water teaspoon by teaspoon if the dough is a bit dry. Gradually incorporate the flour with the egg yolks and knead until the dough is no longer sticky to your hand and smooth.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.

SHAPING THE NOODLES:
After 30 minutes, the dough is soft and pliable at this point. Lightly flour your work surface and divide the dough into 4 and work with one dough at a time and keeping the rest covered to prevent them from drying out. I flattened the dough with my palms (flat enough to feed through the roller) and generously dust it with some flour and set the roller to 1 and roll and fold again and gradually up the setting to 4 until you get a nice “sheet” of noodles. It’s the thickness I like, not too thin and not too thick.

COOKING THE NOODLES:
If you plan to cook immediately, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, place this sheet of noodles and liberally dusted with flour and roll the rest of the dough. Change to cutter (I used fettuccine cutter for this) and feed it through the cutter and repeat with the rest of the sheets
Cook the noodles in a rolling boil water with a pinch of salt for about 1 1/2 – 2 minutes. It doesn’t take long to cook fresh noodles. Do not overcook them. Once they are cooked, drain the water and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. You may toss the noodles with a bit of oil to prevent it from sticking to each other (depending on what you are using it for). Proceed with your recipe using the noodles.

DRYING THE NOODLES:
If you don’t cook them on the same day, it is best to hang them on a drying rack to let them dry completely. Cooking time may take few minutes longer after you dry them.

RECIPE NOTES:
You may store the fresh noodles by freezing them. After you finished cutting the noodles, toss them in generous amount of flour and then roughly shape into several small round nest and place in a freezer bag. They go straight from freezer to boiling water to cook

Mee Hoon Kueh (Hand-Torn Noodles)

MEE HOON KUEH:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup water and add more as needed
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 Tbsp cooking oil of your choice

Mix all the ingredients for mee hoon kueh, except for oil, in a large mixing bowl. Start with about 1/4 cup of water and knead with your cleaned hands until it forms a large dough and no longer sticks to your hands. You may need to add more water or more flour to get to that point. Let the dough rest for at least 1 hour and cover with damp cloth. You can leave it in the refrigerator 24 hours prior to cooking too.

When ready to use the dough, Prepare a big pot of boiling water with some salt and 1 Tbsp of cooking oil. When the water is boiling, start pinching off small pieces of dough and flatten with your fingers and pulling it into thin wide sheets of irregular shape noodles. into the boiling water. Cook for about 1 minute. They will be about half cooked.

Transfer to any hot soup to finish cooking.

Quick Kaya

200 ml canned coconut cream
50 gr palm sugar
50 gr white sugar
3 pandan leaves/screwpine leaves knotted
4 egg yolks from large eggs beaten

SEPARATING EGG YOLKS FROM THE WHITES:
Make sure you separate the egg yolks from the white very carefully. Leaving as little trace of egg whites as possible when separating. If there is a trace of egg whites, you can run the egg yolks through the sieve. This is to ensure you don’t get any lumps in the kaya. Otherwise, beat the yolks until smooth just using a regular fork is perfectly fine. Run it through the sieve if you want to.

TEMPERING THE EGG YOLKS:
Place coconut cream, both sugars, and pandan leaves in a saucepan over medium heat and just cook until the sugar melted. It shouldn’t be boiling, just heated to warm.

With one hand still beating the egg yolks, the other hand holding the saucepan with coconut cream, very gradually pour 1/4 of the coconut cream mixture. Then you can pour the egg mixture back to the saucepan. Stir to mix everything and then place this on the stove over medium heat.

Continue to stir over medium heat. The mixture started to thicken for me at around 8 minutes mark and continue to stir. It may still appear a bit runny, but it will continue to thicken once it cools down completely. Discard the pandan leaves.

Once the kaya has cooled down completely, transfer to a glass jar and secure the lid. Put in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Pressure Cooker Ketupat and Lontong (Rice Cakes)

1 cup Jasmine rice
2 cups water

Rinse the rice in several changes of water and then completely drain off the water.

USING RICE COOKER:
Transfer the rice to inner pot of rice cooker. Add water. I use white rice setting in my rice cooker, which takes about 20 minutes to cook.

USING INSTANT POT PRESSURE COOKER FEATURE:
Transfer the rice to inner pot of instant pot. Add water. Cover the lid. Turn the steam release valve to sealing. Press pressure cooker, then high pressure. Set timer to 3 minutes. When it’s done, wait 10 minutes and then release pressure and proceed to moulding the cake.

USING INSTANT POT RICE FEATURE:
Transfer the rice to inner pot of instant pot. Add water. Cover the lid. Turn the steam release valve to sealing. Press RICE and the time will automatically be set. When it’s done, wait 10 minutes and then release pressure and proceed to moulding the cake.

MOULDING THE CAKE:
After it’s done cooking, immediately transfer to a loaf pan or container. Use the rice paddle or the back of the spoon to spread and really push the rice down to pack it. Repeat this process until all the rice is in.

Once all the rice is in, use a parchment paper to cover the top of the rice and use your palms to gently push down all over the surface to ensure you really pack it down and to smooth the surface.

Let cool at room temperature for 3-4 hours or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Use in soups and salads, or with Lontong Sayur Medan, a multicourse meal with savory dishes such as rendang, vegetables in coconut milk, jackfruit curry, shrimp, and serundeng.

Kaya Butter Toast and Kopitiam Eggs

For toast:
4 slices of white bread
Cold butter
Kaya

For eggs:
2 large chicken eggs (about 58 gr each) at room temperature
2 cups rolling-boiled hot water
White pepper powder
Soy sauce

For toast:
Toast the slices of bread in your toaster and toast until they are golden brown.

Traditionally, the crusts of the bread are removed from all four sides, but you can leave them on if you prefer.

Spread the kaya generously on both sides of the toast and then cut some slices of cold butter and arrange it on top of the toast and then top with another piece of toast. Cut them into four equal size or you can cut it diagonally into half. The cold butter will gradually melt when it comes into contact with the heat from the toast.

For eggs:
Get the eggs out from refrigerator 5 minutes before getting ready to cook. This is important because if it’s cold from the fridge, the eggs might crack when coming into contact with the hot water AND the 5-minute cooking time may not be accurate anymore.

Pour 2 cups of rolling boil water into the mug with a lid and gently add the eggs in and secure the lid. Set the timer to 5 minutes. TIMING IS EVERYTHING here!

After 5 minutes, use a spoon to get the eggs out and rinse with cold water. Use the back of the spoon to crack the shell and let the egg slip out into a bowl. The egg white should be white in color (doh!) runny, soft custard like, while the yolk appears to be whole but it’s very soft and very runny when you break it with a spoon. If you see this, then you have yourself kopitiam style soft-boiled eggs.

Season with white pepper powder and a little bit of soy sauce.

RECIPE NOTES:
The eggs that I used were large grade A white shells and about 58 grams each. Brown eggs might have “thicker” shells compare to white shells, so you might have to add another minute or so, in other words, you will have to experiment, but 5 minutes are the minimum I would imagine.

If you cook 4 eggs at one go, you may need 6-7 minutes. I would suggest limit 4 eggs in one batch though.

If it is your first time making this kopitiam soft-boiled eggs, then after 5 minutes, remove one egg and crack open to see if the egg white has turned white and no longer translucent. This way, you only “sacrifice” one egg if they haven’t cooked through and you can continue to let the other cook in the hot water for another minute.

Spicy, Tangy Noodles

1 lb of spaghetti/linguine/angel hair/rice noodles/egg noodles/ramen noodles/udon noodles

SAUCE:
1 Tbsp of sesame oil/garlic oil/truffle oil
2 Tbsp of store-bought red chili paste/black bean chili paste or more if you like it really spicy
4 Tbsp of Chinese black vinegar available at Asian grocery store
3 Tbsp of soy sauce/tamari or more to your taste

GARNISHES:
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish
1 stalk of fresh green onions finely chopped
Fried shallots crips available at Asian grocery store

IF YOU WANT TO TURN THIS INTO A COMPLETE MEAL (USE ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING):
Soft-boiled/hard-boiled eggs
Pan-fried firm tofu cubes
Leftover rotisserie chicken
Grilled chicken/meat/seafood shrimp or crab meat lumps
Grilled/steamed veggies asparagus, broccoli, bok choy, etc

Cook the noodle as directed on the package. While the noodle is cooking, In a large mixing bowl, prepare the sauce by mixing all the ingredients. Stir to mix everything. Add in the cooked noodles (pan-fried tofu cubes, leftover rotisserie chicken or other protein of your choice if using) and tossed to make sure the sauce is coating the noodles. Have a taste to see if you like it. Add more soy sauce, or more chili paste if you prefer. It should be savory, spicy, and tangy. Garnish with some fresh cilantro leaves. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

Pandan Juice and Extract

INGREDIENTS:
30 gr pandan leaves (screwpine leaves) fresh or frozen
1 cup water

RECOMMENDED TOOLS:
Kitchen shears
Cheese cloth
Fine strainer
Blender

Wash the pandan leaves to get rid of sands or dirt.

Cut into a 1-inch piece with kitchen shears. Do not put into the blender whole. Pandan leaves are very fibrous and need to be broken down into smaller pieces.

FOR PANDAN JUICE:
Blitz away until the leaves are reduced to pulps.

Transfer to a cheesecloth, which I used. You can use fine mesh strainer too. Squeeze all the juice out as much as you can.

Transfer to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. After that, they will start to smell bad. You can even go two more rounds with the pulps and add more water to get a more diluted version of pandan juice if you want.

FOR PANDAN EXTRACT:
Once you transfer the pandan juice to the glass jar and store in the refrigerator, let them sit undisturbed for 18-20 hours. The green sediment will start to accumulate at the bottom of the jar. This is your extract. Discard the liquid layer on the top and you can use the extract at the bottom.

WHEN TO USE PANDAN JUICE AND WHEN TO USE PANDAN EXTRACT

Pandan juice is a watery version of pandan extract. You can use this to flavor rice, or desserts that allows more liquid/water for example: cendol, agar agar jelly cake, pandan mille crepe cake, pandan cinnamon rolls, pandan liu sha bao.

Pandan extract is a concentrated and has very little water in it. You can pretty much use it in recipes that needs very little water/liquid for example: French macarons, cakes recipes, etc. Pandan extract tastes more bitter because it is concentrated. So, be aware of not using too much in the recipe or you will taste that bitter taste.

Pressure Cooker Nasi Pandan Wangi (Pandan Rice)

2 cups white long-grain rice
1 cup water add another 1/2 cup if cooking on the stove
1 cup pandan juice
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tsp salt optional
1 Tbsp coconut oil optional

Wash the rice grains in several rinse of water until the water runs clear. Drain off water completely. Use a strainer if necessary to make sure you get rid of all excess water. This is important so your liquid measurement is accurate.

COOKING ON STOVE TOP:
Bring the water, pandan juice, coconut milk, and salt to a simmer in large pot. Add rice grains in. Give it a stir. Lower the heat to let it gently simmer. Close the lid and let it cook for the next 20 minutes. After 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.

Uncover the lid. The rice should have absorbed all the liquid and cooked through. Fluff the rice with a fork.

COOKING WITH RICE COOKER:
Place the rice and the rest of the ingredients in the inner pot of rice cooker. Give it a stir. Close the lid and set your rice cooker setting. My rice cooker takes about 20 minutes. Fluff the rice with the rice paddle when it’s done.

COOKING WITH INSTANT POT “RICE” FEATURE:
Place the rice and the rest of the ingredients in the inner pot of Instant Pot. Give it a stir. Close the lid. Turn the steam release valve to seal. Press on “Rice” button. It will take less than 10 minutes for the rice to cook. But keep in mind it will take about 5 minutes or so for the Instant pot to pressurize and then wait 10 minutes before unlocking the lid to fluff the rice. Stir in the coconut oil, it will melt when it comes into contact with the hot rice.

COOKING WITH INSTANT POT “PRESSURE COOKER” FEATURE:
Place the rice and the rest of the ingredients in the inner pot of Instant Pot. Give it a stir. Close the lid. Turn the steam release valve to seal. Press on “Pressure Cooker” button, and then “high pressure”. Set the timer to 3 minutes. Keep in mind it will take about 5 minutes or so for the Instant pot to pressurize and then wait 10 minutes before unlocking the lid to fluff the rice. Stir in the coconut oil, it will melt when it comes into contact with the hot rice.

Pressure Cooker Rotisserie Chicken

2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (4-pound) whole roasting chicken
1 lemon, halved
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chicken stock

In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, thyme, paprika, oregano, onion powder and garlic powder.

Remove giblets and excess fat from the chicken cavity. Dry chicken thoroughly with paper towels. Season chicken and chicken cavity with salt mixture. Stuff cavity with lemon.

Set 6-qt Instant Pot® to the high saute setting. Add canola oil and chicken, breast side down, and cook until evenly golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Using tongs, flip, and cook for an additional 4 minutes; set aside.

Place metal trivet into the pot and add chicken stock. Gently place chicken on top of the trivet. Select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 28 minutes. When finished cooking, naturally release pressure according to manufacturer’s directions, about 20-30 minutes. Let rest 10-15 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Pina Coladas

1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cut into 1½-inch pieces
6 ounces sweetened cream of coconut (preferably Coco López)
2 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
8 ounces white rum
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 ounces dark rum (optional)
Maraschino cherries and lime wedges (for serving)

Place pineapple pieces in a resealable plastic bag, laying them flat. Freeze until solid, at least 3 hours.

Shake cream of coconut and coconut milk in their cans before measuring. Purée pineapple, cream of coconut, coconut milk, white rum, lime juice, and 3 cups ice (about 15 oz.) in a blender until smooth. Transfer blender cup to freezer and freeze until mixture is thickened (it should be the consistency of a milkshake), 25–35 minutes.

Blend again until mixture is the perfect slushy frozen drink consistency. Divide among glasses. Top off each with ½ oz. dark rum, if using, and garnish each with a cherry and lime wedge.

Do Ahead: Pineapple can be chopped 3 months ahead. Keep frozen.

From Bon Appetit

Margaritas

Kosher salt (for serving)
1/2 thick lime wheel (for serving)
2 oz. tequila blanco
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup

Place some salt on a small plate. Rub rim of an old-fashioned or rocks glass with lime (reserve for serving); dip in salt. Fill with ice and set aside.

Combine tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until outside of shaker is very cold, about 20 seconds.

Strain cocktail through a Hawthorne strainer or a slotted spoon into reserved glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

From Bon Appetit

Key Lime Pie

Crust

14 graham crackers (about 1½ sleeves)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling and Assembly

4 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup fresh key lime (or regular lime) juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)

Crust

Preheat oven to 325°. Using your hands, crush graham crackers in a large bowl until coarsely ground (you could do this in a food processor if you’d like, just be sure not to process too finely; you want some texture in the larger pieces). Add butter, coconut oil, sugar, and salt and mix until well blended (mixture will resemble wet sand). Transfer to a 9″ pie dish. Using your fingers and the underside of a flat measuring cup, press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of dish. Bake crust, rotating once halfway through, until golden brown on top and crumbs are set, 12–15 minutes. Let cool.

Filling and Assembly

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg yolks and condensed milk in a large bowl until paler and almost doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 2 tsp. lime zest, lime juice, and salt. Pour into cooled crust. Bake pie until filling no longer jiggles and is starting to slightly puff around the edges, 15–20 minutes. Let cool completely.

Whip cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently whisk in yogurt and rum, if using. Dollop onto cooled pie, creating dramatic peaks and valleys with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Garnish with lime zest.

Do Ahead: Crust can be baked 2 days ahead; pie without whipped topping can be made 2 days ahead; pie can be assembled (with topping) 4 hours ahead.

From Bon Appetit

Angel Food Cake

1 cup cake flour, sifted
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups egg whites (from 12–14 large eggs)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Berries and whipped cream (for serving)

A 10″ tube pan

Preheat oven to 325°. Whisk flour and powdered sugar in a medium bowl.

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-low speed to break up egg whites, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until whites are very foamy and barely form soft peaks, about 45 seconds longer. Gradually add granulated sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed until whites are firm and glossy and hold stiff peaks (if you overbeat, the meringue will look dry, grainy, and curdled). Beat in lemon juice and vanilla.

Remove bowl from mixer. Sift one-third of dry ingredients over meringue. Return bowl to mixer and beat on low speed until incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer again and repeat sifting and mixing process 2 more times. Remove bowl again and fold batter several times with a large flexible spatula, scraping and lifting batter from the bottom to make sure all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Scrape about half of batter into ungreased tube pan. Using a spoon or small offset spatula, push batter around bottom of pan, into corners, and up sides and center tube (this helps form smooth sides and eliminate air pockets); it’s okay if batter forms a little bit of a trough, with the center at a lower level than the outer edges. Scrape remaining batter into pan, spreading evenly and smoothing top.

Bake cake until top is puffed, split, golden, and springs back firmly when touched and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–40 minutes. Immediately invert pan, placing hollow part of tube over a long-necked wine or other glass bottle to elevate it (if your pan has feet, simply rest upside-down on feet). Let cool at least 1 hour, then turn right side up. The upside-down cooling is key for a cake that doesn’t deflate and sink onto itself. Using a thin metal spatula, cut around sides and loosen cake. Pull on tube to release cake from pan, then cut around tube. Using thin metal spatula, loosen cake from bottom. Invert cake onto a plate or cake stand and remove bottom. Serve with berries and whipped cream.

Do Ahead: Cake can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature.

From Bon Appetit

Bread Pudding (with Variations)

1/2-large (2-pound) loaf challah bread, torn into 1½–2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3-inch strip orange zest
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided, plus more for pan
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Preheat oven to 300°. Spread torn bread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, tossing halfway through and reducing oven temperature if bread is getting too golden, until pieces are very dry and slightly toasted, 25–35 minutes. (Dry bread will absorb the custard without disintegrating, which is why this step is important.) Let cool, then transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, heat cinnamon, vanilla bean, cream, milk, granulated sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high. As soon as mixture starts to boil (watch closely or milk will boil over top of pot!), remove from heat. Whisk in orange zest and 2 Tbsp. butter and let steep 30 minutes. Pluck out and discard cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and orange zest.

Brush a 1½–2-qt. baking dish with butter. Pour milk mixture into a blender. Add egg and egg yolks and blend, starting on low and increasing speed to high, until mixture is light and foamy, 20–30 seconds. Pour over reserved bread and toss to coat. Scrape into prepared pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours and up to 12; this gives bread time to evenly soak up custard.

Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 300°. Brush remaining 2 Tbsp. butter over cold bread pieces. Sprinkle with raw sugar, then top with almonds, if using. Bake bread pudding until lightly golden, puffed, pulling away from edges of pan, and butter is bubbling, 30–40 minutes. Let cool 1 hour before serving.

Do Ahead: Bread pudding can be made 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

For Chocolate Bread Pudding

Add 6 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao or higher) and 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder to scalded milk mixture instead of butter and whisk until melted and smooth.

When ready to bake, top bread pudding with 1 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate. Sprinkle with raw sugar, then top with ¼ cup chopped pecans instead of almonds. Bake as directed.

For Coconut Bread Pudding

Add one 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk instead of heavy cream to whole milk mixture. As soon as mixture bubbles, remove from heat and whisk in 2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil instead of butter and a strip of lime zest instead of orange. Let steep 30 minutes. Pluck out and discard cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and lime zest.

Brush baking dish with 2 Tbsp. melted virgin coconut oil instead of butter. Brush 2 Tbsp. melted virgin coconut oil instead of butter over cold bread pieces. Sprinkle with raw sugar, then top with 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes instead of almonds. Bake as directed.

From Bon Appetit