in the kitchen with: jen altman (part 2)

Jen Altman‘s submission for chocolate and walnut mandelbrot has been one of our absolute favorite recipes here, not just for its simplicity, but also its beauty and its story. This week, we expected she would submit another recipe of similar exceptional caliber, but she managed to one up herself! (I didn’t think it was possible to improve on her work). Just in time for summer, she has submitted a Strawberry Basil Bread Pudding that will allow you to have an sweet indulgence with minimal effort but maximum flavor and originality!

About Jen Altman: Jen is a photographer who wants to grow up to be a story teller. Meanwhile, she waxes poetic on her blog, nectar & light. She has recently completed work for chronicle books, artful blogging and SMALL magazine. See more of her work on her blog, her portfolio or her etsy shop.

CLICK HERE for the full recipe!


strawberry basil bread pudding

2 c. heavy cream

2 c. 1/2 & 1/2

1/2 c. skim milk

2 pints strawberries {hulled and sliced}

1 T. fresh basil {chopped}

zest from 1 lemon

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. salt

1 1/4 c. sugar

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

1 large loaf of challah {egg bread}

pre heat your oven to 325 F. start by combining 1 pint of hulled and sliced strawberries, a 1/2 cup of sugar, lemon zest and basil in bowl. toss well so that the strawberries are covered in the sugar, zest and basil. cover and place in the refrigerator. in another bowl, add the other pint of hulled and sliced strawberries and 1/4 cup of sugar – toss well, cover and refrigerate.

tear the challah into chunks and place pieces in another large bowl. set aside.

in a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, 1/2 & 1/2 and skim milk. slowly bring to a bowl – whisking often to avoid burning the cream. meanwhile – in yet another bowl – whisk together the eggs, yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, salt, vanilla and lemon juice. remove the cream from the heat just as it comes to a rolling boil. very slowly whisk the cream into the egg mixture – very slowly – as you do not want to end up cooking the eggs. when the two are thoroughly combined – pour it over the challah pieces. ensure that the challah is completely covered. let this stand for 20 minutes so that the challah can soak up as much of the liquid as possible before it bakes.

after 20 minutes, add the strawberry, zest and basil mix to the soaking bread – stir in – then pour into a prepared baking dish. place in oven, uncovered, and bake for one hour. let set for at least 15 minutes before cutting into – serve by topping with the other portion of sugared strawberries and a basil leaf or two.

Why Jen chose this recipe: i have a major crush on bread pudding. traditionally, i bake a chocolate challah bread pudding in the fall and winter as it is a rather heavy dessert. but a craving, a pot overflowing with fresh basil and the unexplainable need to do something – anything – with strawberries resulted in this new recipe. the basil, lemon and strawberries combine to create a truly fresh and unique taste.


  1. Heather says:

    I’m drooling right now.

  2. Courtney says:

    This looks amazing…now I know what I’m making for dessert this weekend!

  3. Meg says:

    This looks amazing!

    One quick question, though: that looks like more than a tablespoon of basil in the bowl with the strawberries…or do mine eyes deceive me?

  4. the purcells says:

    looks gorgeous and sounds equally as amazing – what a perfect combination. we love jen!!

  5. Lisa says:

    this looks amazing and perfect as a summer party dessert. thanks!

  6. Camille says:

    I just went to her Etsy shop and her photos are amazing!! Thanks for highlighting her gorgeous work in food and photography!

  7. Sam says:

    Oh, yummy. I adore strawberries and basil. Must make soon.

  8. jen a says:

    thank you for the love…

    meg – it is a tablespoon – but a very packed one ;)

  9. Pat says:

    Would day old croissants work? How would they

  10. Kimberly says:

    Jen, I just got home from the grocery store and now I want to go back because it looks so GOOD!

  11. jen a says:

    pat: they might – but i think you would have to test the amount of liquid need as the croissants would likely absorb a bit differently – but give it a go – it sounds SO delicious!

  12. I know her blog and her wonderful work! Basil and strawberries are perfect together!

  13. Jen says:

    I especially love her recipes! I loved the chocolate bread pudding and I am sure this will be as good too.

  14. Looks delicious… but what is 1/2 and 1/2… and what is heavy cream and what is challah???

  15. kristina says:

    Hi Not Your Goddess! I just saw that you are in Iceland. Try googling “Substitute for half and half” (it’s a product that people use in place of cream), and choose the milk:butter ratio that you like the most among the links your find. For the cream (heavy cream) you should be able to find cream in Iceland? Challah is a traditional Jewish bread made with egg in the dough. I don’t know what it would be called there, or where you might find it. So, you may have to be creative with what you substitute for it. But you want a bread that will hold up in the bread pudding and absorb the liquid well. You may consequently have to vary the liquid you add based on the bread you choose.

    If you do find challah, take a couple of loaves so that you can make French toast with one. it makes the BEST french toast EVER.

    Good luck and let us know what ingredients you used in Iceland! We’re curious to know!

  16. Thanks for the recipes – I’m looking forward to trying out the Chocolate & Walnut Mandelbrot :)

  17. sigrid says:

    Just love Jen’s work, thanks for showing us some more of it! :-))

  18. Those are gorgeous photos – wonderful post!

  19. amy says:

    My bakery did not have any challah left when I went shopping for this recipe. I substituted brioche and it worked wonderfully. This is a delicious and easy recipe. (The photos were what inspired me to try the recipe!)

  20. kitchen mom says:

    I have one of Jen’s photos hanging in my kitchen that provides wonderful inspiration! I can’t wait to try making this bread when strawberry season rolls around here in S. Florida.

  21. bojana says:

    i love jen altman’s photos. they have something mysterious in them.

  22. tami says:

    Is it still possible to get your chocolate bread pudding recipe?? It sounds amazing and I would love to try it!! Thank you!!!!


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