Bread Pudding: Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread the bread cubes on a baking
sheet and set aside in a dry
place for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight, to dry out.
Soak the dried cherries in water to cover for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight, to soften;
Combine the cherries, pecans, and bread cubes in a large bowl.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat the eggs and sugar for
3 to 4 minutes, until thick and lemon-colored.
Reduce the speed to low and gradually
add the milk.
Beat in the vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and melted butter. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and let stand, stirring occasionally, for
45 to 60 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. If you break apart
a bread cube, it should be soaked through.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2 1/2-quart casserole.
Topping: Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and toss well. Sprinkle half
the topping over the bottom of the prepared casserole.
Spoon the bread mixture,
with any liquid, into the casserole.
Cover with buttered foil and set the dish in
a roasting pan. Add hot water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of the casserole.
Bake for 1 hour.
Remove the foil, brush the top of the pudding with the butter, and sprinkle with
the remaining topping.
Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes longer, or until the top
is brown and crispy. (The pudding will puff up slightly during baking and fall a
little when removed from the oven.)
Serve warm with the warm Sour Cherry Bourbon
Sour Cherry Bourbon Sauce: Combine the cherries and bourbon in a bowl and let
soak for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight. Put the light cream and vanilla bean in a large
saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse
for about 10 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean from the cream and scrape any remaining
seeds into the cream. Discard the bean.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and corn, starch. Whisk
in about 1/2 cup of the infused cream, then whisk the mixture into the cream in
the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring, for 5 to 8 minutes, until the sauce
is slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and set
Put the soaked cherries and bourbon in a small saucepan and heat until hot. Remove
from the heat and carefully ignite. When the flames subside, stir the heavy
cream into the cherries. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, lower
the heat, and simmer for 1 minute. Add the sour cherry mixture to the custard sauce
and stir until well mixed.
Serve immediately or store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Reheat the sauce gently over low heat, stirring constantly, before serving.