Persian culture has a fascinating custom called “T’aarof”that can be somewhat exasperating if you are unfamiliar with its complexities. It is a form of civility comprised of an abundance of polite phrases, language, and behaviors that can get rather extreme if you are not aware of what is going on. At its most artful it is a verbal dance allowing you time figure out the intentions of the other party. If you are at someone’s house and they offer for you to stay and have dinner, t’aarof dictates that you immediately refuse even if you would like very much to stay. You are allowing for your hostess to have offered out of politeness. She might not really want you to stay. Get it? She will offer again, but then again you will refuse. This will go on at least three times while each of you figures out the real intentions of the other. If you should actually stay for dinner you will find yourself in an endless round of ‘taarof as the hostess offers you more food but you must refuse for fear of looking like a glutton. She will offer again, of course. You can accept on the third offer, if it is made. In the world of ‘taarof you have to be careful as you could end up either hungry or overstuffed depending on how you play it.
I followed the recipe closely but left the bread crusts on as I was after a more rustic pudding. Make this just before your guests arrive and gently reheat just prior to serving. Be sure to go look at Jennifer’s blog and the pictures she took of her prep of this wonderful pudding. I’ll be making this one again for sure.
Apple Rum Raisin Bread Pudding
Inspired by Bon Appétit
⅔ cup raisins
2 tablespoons dark or spiced rum
2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
4 cups packed Challah or Brioche pieces, cut into ¾-inch cubes (you’ll need one loaf but you won’t use all of it)
1 large tart baking apple such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, cut into ⅛-inch slices and cut in half.
Vanilla Ice Cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 11×7-inch glass (or equivalent 2-quart) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Place raisins and rum in a shallow bowl and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Let raisins soak in rum while you prepare other ingredients.
3. Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, melted butter, cinnamon, salt and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Add challah cubes, sliced apples and raisins with rum and fold together with a large spatula. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, flatten with spatula and make sure apples and raisins are evenly distributed. Let stand 15 minutes.
4. Bake bread pudding until top is golden and center is set, about 55-65 minutes. Spoon into bowls, top with vanilla ice cream and serve.