I can’t get behind the name “strata” for this foodstuff. First of all, you don’t perceive the layers; they’re only relevant to the setup. A layer cake, hell, even a sandwich is more stratified than a so-called “strata.” Secondly, it’s a plural form. I feel as uncomfortable saying “a strata” as I would “a phenomena” or, in the other direction, “several chair.” (That’s not meant as a correction. If it doesn’t bother you, go ahead. But on my tongue, it sits wrong.)

However, I have no problem calling it “a delicious savory bread pudding.” [Or you could call it a “Breakfast casserole,” as Melissa Clark just did in the NYT. Hers seems excessively rich, what with the croissants AND heavy cream, but I do like that she gives a ratio basis:
A basic ratio is one egg to a half-cup of liquid dairy (milk, cream or a combination) to a cup of cubed bread. Substituting yolks for some of the whole eggs will give you a richer custard. Using fewer eggs gives you a firmer casserole that’s easier to slice for serving. And mixing in plenty of grated cheese (about a half-cup per cup of dairy) adds flavor, luscious gooeyness and a scattering of browned bits on the top.]

For the Streetsingers‘ caroling party I made Smitten Kitchen’s corn-scallion version, using frozen white corn kernels and, along with cheddar, maybe half a cup of parmesan (mine is old and very hard, making it a pain to grate, so I quit early), and almond milk rather than cow, and adding a little mustard powder as well as the mayonnaise. It turns out that one of the flat little pane italiano from Trader Joe’s, bought a day early and sliced in half to firm up just a bit, is just about the right size to generate 8 cups of bread cubes with an end or so left over to nibble. The pudding sat in the fridge for about seven hours; I’d planned on eight but, you know how it goes, all that grating takes longer than you think.  Halfway through the 55+ minutes of baking I poked a bunch of bread bergs sticking up over the surface down under to drown in the liquid. They’d have been dry toasty crusts if I hadn’t. My old Pyrex baking dish has a wicker-sided serving container, which no doubt helps hold the heat; covered with aluminum foil right when it came out of the oven,  and wrapped in a plastic bag and a big towel for travel, the pudding stayed modestly warm for several hours, and I had no issues with extra liquid pooling in the dish.

People said they liked it; I warned them not to lie out of politeness, because it would come back to haunt them, but they insisted, so I’ll be making this (maybe in the spinach version) again for potlucks and for my new-mother cousin Deborah.


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