Last week, very early in the morning, I dropped into Rustica Bakery in Minneapolis to film this week’s episode. When it comes to choosing subject matter for my show, my reasoning varies: Sometimes I think about what the audience might want to see; oftentimes it has to do with what’s in season. This week it was purely selfish: I wanted to see the work of my favorite bakery, learn a little about their art, and meet the folks behind the crusty bread.  

For Steve Horton and Tammy Hoyt-Simonds, the baking team behind Rustica, process is the most important thing. They want to take simple ingredients and turn them into the best example of what wheat can be. Although Rustica uses local flour, it’s neither organic nor from a small mill — but that’s not for lack of trying. Sadly, the small-batch local flours don’t meet their consistency specs, and the imported stuff would make for a ridiculous price point if they switched over. Which means they would have to hire fewer people, moving their hand-crafted work into a more mechanized process.  

I love the bread at Rustica and I hope that someday the economics of flour enables them to combine great process with a base ingredient to match.

Here’s the recipe for the Bread Pudding with Winter Squash and Apples in the video:

1 1/2 loaves of bread cut into thin slices — I used sourdough and bread that contains rye
1 butternut squash
3 apples (Courtland or other good cooking apple)
2 cups cream
2 cups milk
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups honey plus a little more on top
1 tablespoon toasted coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
Pepper and salt to taste
Butter for greasing

Cut butternut squash in half; remove, clean, and separate seeds. Rub squash with butter and place upside down on baking sheet. Toss seeds in canola oil and set on baking sheet as well. Cook at 350 for 45 minutes or until the squash is cooked through. Check on seeds periodically to make sure they don’t burn.

Set seeds aside once crispy. Puree the squash with all of the ingredients except the bread, apple, and butter.

Butter a casserole pan or pie tin. Evenly layer the bread and apples to the top of the dish. Pour the liquid over the top and press down with your hands. Let the bread soak up the liquid for at least 10 minutes. Cover the pan with tinfoil and cook in the oven for 50 minutes. Don’t forget about it, as I did. After 50 minutes, remove the tinfoil, pour extra honey on top, and set the oven on Broil to caramelize the honey.  

Let cool to room temperature (reheat as neccessary) and serve with caramel. Sprinkle toasted seeds on top.