SOAK THE BREAD. Grease an 8" baking dish with the softened butter and set aside. Heat the oven to 325°F. Whisk the milk and eggs in a large bowl until well combined, and then whisk in 3/4 cup of the sugar. Pour in the melted butter and whisk to combine. Place the bread in the egg/milk mixture, using a rubber spatula to submerge it in the liquid. Soak the bread until evenly moistened, about 20 minutes, and then transfer it and any remaining liquid to the prepared baking dish.
BAKE THE PUDDING. Whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl, and evenly sprinkle over the top of the pudding. Bake until the pudding is set and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
MAKE THE RUM SAUCE. Whisk the evaporated milk, whole milk, sugar, and butter together in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Place the cornstarch in a small bowl and dissolve with 4 teaspoons of cold water. Once the milk mixture is hot, add the cornstarch slurry, and then stir slowly and constantly until it reaches a thin, gravy like texture and a few bubbles rise to the surface. Turn off the heat, stir in the rum, and serve the bread pudding.
NOTE: Bread pudding really highlights the idea of making something from nothing.
Reprinted with permission from ©Dollars to Donuts: Comfort Food & Kitchen Wisdom from Route 66's Landmark Rock Cafe, by Dawn Welch with Raquel Pelzel, published by Rodale click for book review
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