Pumpernickel Pudding

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Pumpernickel PuddingHaving grown up in New York and New Jersey around Jewish, German, and German-Jewish delis, I know a thing or two about pumpernickel. Deep, dark brown bread, perhaps most familiar as a bagel, comes in many forms and I love them all. As I ventured West, the pumpernickel got lighter and lighter until I reached California and it was basically rye bread. This recipe is a German ode to the delis of my youth, to nearly pitch-black bread, and to Californians, for whom I am forever sorry that someone turned your pumpernickel from an 11 down to a 3.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 Servings
  • Total Time: 2 Hours 20 Minutes


  • 4 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 5 cups (about 1 lb) Swiss chard, ribs removed, chopped
  • 6 cups (about 1½ lb) pumpernickel bread, toasted, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, diced
  • ½ cup kalamata or other black olives, pitted
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 cups half-and-half or milk
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 4 cups Gouda cheese, shredded, divided
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Place a skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter has melted, add onion and 1 teaspoon salt, and sauté until translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and continue to sauté until the greens have completely wilted, about another 6-8 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the bread cubes with the roasted red pepper, olives, and the contents of the skillet. In another mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half or milk, thyme, garlic powder, mustard, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Grease the bottom and sides of a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Pour half of the bread mixture into the baking dish. Be sure you have one even layer with a flat top (no bread hills). Sprinkle 2 cups of cheese on top of the bread. Top with the remainder of the bread mixture.
  5. Slowly pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread mixture, being sure that some of the liquid reaches most, if not all, of the bread. Use the back of a wooden spoon, a clean hand, or spatula, to compress the whole mixture and ensure that the liquid is evenly distributed.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the baking dish to sit on the counter for an hour, undisturbed. It needs its beauty sleep. Remove the plastic wrap, sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 cups of cheese and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Transfer the baking dish to the center rack of the oven and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is beginning to brown and get crusty.
  7. Remove the casserole from the oven and serve in slices or scoops, hot.

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