Mexican Bread Pudding
1 pound 2 to 3 day-old white bread, torn in bite-size pieces
8 Tablespoons butter (1 stick), divided
3 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 cups packed brown sugar (or, if you can find it, panela)
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick (3-inch piece)
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2/3 cups raisins
1/2 cup farmer cheese
1/3 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, separated
1 quart whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.
2. Put the chunks of bread in a large mixing bowl.
3. Melt half of the butter (4 tablespoons) and mix it with 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. Drizzle the mixture over the bread, tossing to distribute evenly.
4. Spread the bread on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler to brown, turning bread pieces as necessary.
5. Bring to a boil the water, brown sugar (or panela) and cinnamon stick, and boil for 5 minutes until syrupy and caramel colored
6. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pecans, raisins, cheeses and toasted bread. Sprinkle mixture with cinnamon, stir, and transfer to prepared baking dish.
7. Whisk together the brown sugar syrup and remaining butter and oil. Drizzle over the bread. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.
8. Beat the eggs until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in the milk and vanilla.
9. Pour mixture over baked bread, and return to the oven for 40 minutes. Top of custard will be brown.