1¼ pounds panettone (Italian sweet bread) (see note)
1½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 extra-large eggs
6 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
⅓ cup sliced blanched almonds
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut half of the panettone in ½-inchthick slices and cut the rest into 1-inch dice. Place all of it on a sheet pan in a single layer and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Brush a 10 x 4 x 2-inch rectangular baking dish with the butter. Lay the sliced panettone in one layer in the dish, cutting the slices to fit, then distribute the diced panettone on top.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, granulated sugar, vanilla, orange zest and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour the mixture over the panettone, pressing lightly so the bread soaks up the custard. Set aside for 10 minutes or refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
4. Sprinkle the almonds on top, then place the baking dish in a large (13 x 16-inch) roasting pan. Fill the larger pan with enough very hot tap water to come halfway up the side of the baking dish, being careful not to get water in the pudding. Cover the larger pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting it so the foil doesn’t touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape.
5. Bake the pudding for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 35 to 45 minutes longer, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Carefully remove the baking dish from the water bath and cool slightly. Sprinkle lightly with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.
NOTE: This will be delicious with either plain panettone with candied fruit or with chocolate panettone.