12 or 13 slices stale French bread, crusts removed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
4 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.
Butter one side of each slice of bread and set aside.
Put the eggs, yolks, granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed.
Pour the milk and cream into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat until scalded
(Tiny bubbles will form around the edge of the pan).
Remove from the heat and, whisking briskly, slowly add the egg mixture. Stir in the vanilla.
Have ready enough boiling water to come 2 1/2 inches up the sides of a pot large enough to hold a 2-quart baking dish. Layer the bread, buttered side up, in the baking dish.
Strain the custard into the dish (the bread will float to the top).
Put the pot of boiling water into the oven and then put the custard-filled dish into it.
Bake about 45 minutes, or until the custard is set except for a light tremble in the center.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle confectioners' sugar on top.
Delicious hot or cold.
Try topping it with a little unsweetened heavy cream poured over.
From Leon Lianides of The Coach House in New York City and adapted in "The Breakfast Book"
by Marion Cunningham, 1987, Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
Reprinted by permission of Marion Cunningham