After thinking about and making bread pudding for Not Bread Alone, I had to try it at Charlie’s L’étoile Verte on visit to Hilton Head, SC. It was a notable example, made in a sandwich loaf pan and so dense with delicious breads that is could be sliced, as though for toast. A variety of fruits and nuts complimented a firm texture and rich custard.
I called Charlie, patriarch of this island institution, to ask for his secrets. He was happy to share. True to the use-it-up spirit of bread pudding, each batch is a little different – no written recipe – using up the excess from the night before. The foundation is 6 eggs and a quart of milk. However, an abundance of half and half or heavy cream in the frig can richen up the mixture.
Charlie’s dinnertime bread basket offerings come from The French Bakery, another Hilton Head stalwart. On any given day, you might find the remains of last night’s pecan bread, cranberry-apricot or country loaf along with some raisins, cinnamon, vanilla and maybe some more nuts. Charlie likes it sweet, (and who doesn’t) putting in two or three cups of sugar. “After the whole mess is blended and soaked, then I taste.” says Charlie. Adjust the seasoning, maybe adding a little more sugar, then bake till done. Served with a crème anglaise, it takes two or three loaves a day to keep up with the demand.