Creamy Cranberry Bread Pudding
4 pounds brioche or challah bread
6 cups half and half
6 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
3 cups sugar
3 cups cranberries
1/2 cup orange marmalade
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cut the crusts off the bread and cut into 1-inch cubes. You should have about 10 1/2 cups of cubes. Arrange on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure they do not brown too much; set aside to cool. Leave the oven on. In a saucepan, heat the half-and-half, cream, salt, and vanilla bean over medium heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. When the cream mixture reaches a fast simmer (do not let it boil), turn off the heat.
Set aside to infuse 10 to 15 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together. Whisking constantly, gradually add the hot cream mixture. Strain into a large bowl to smooth the mixture and remove the vanilla bean. Add the bread cubes, toss well, and let soak until absorbed. Fold the mixture occasionally to ensure even soaking. In a food processor pulse the berries to roughly chop them. Fold them into the soaked bread cubes carefully.
Divide half the bread mixture among 20 ramekins, custard cups, or dessert cups, reserving the rest, filling them half way. Place a teaspoon of orange marmalade in each ramekin then top off with the remaining soaked bread mixture. Arrange the puddings in a hot water bath. Bake until set and golden brown on top, about 30 minutes for individual puddings. Serve warm or chilled, dusted with confectioners sugar. Serves 20