Kirschenmichel is a type of German bread pudding that uses day-old bread. Simple ingredients including eggs, sugar and milk are used to create a souffle-like texture when the pudding is baked in an oven. The addition of tart cherries either inside the batter or on top of the dish makes it unique, as can spices such as cardamom and cloves. Some recipes put almonds or hazelnuts into the pudding, while variations can include cocoa powder, vanilla icing, lemon zest or a sprinkling of flavored liqueur when the dish is done cooking. The finished pudding can be eaten as a main course or as a dessert served with ice cream, whipped cream or custard.
The first step in making kirschenmichel is to prepare the bread. The recipe requires dried bread, so a loaf that is a few days old is good. Alternately, fresh bread can be dried out in an oven and used. This is because too much moisture in the bread could ruin the consistency of the kirschenmichel, leaving it a mushy soup-like concoction.
Eggs are separated and the yolks are mixed with more eggs, butter and sugar until smooth. Additional spices — such as cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla or lemon zest — can be added at this point. The bread and tart cherries are combined with the egg yolk mixture and stirred until each piece is coated and the cherries are evenly dispersed. Some recipes allow the mixture to sit for a period to allow the bread to fully absorb some of the liquid.
The egg whites are whisked with a pinch of salt until they form peaks. The stiff egg white mixture is then folded into the main kirschenmichel batter. Folding involves gently incorporating the whites so they do not lose the air they contain and collapse, so somewhat delicate movements with a spatula are key. The addition of the egg whites ensures kirschenmichel will have some height and volume after baking.
The entire mixture is placed in a large ramekin, casserole dish or other oven-safe baking dish. If the cherries were not added with the bread earlier, then they can be poured or placed on top of the uncooked batter. Some small pieces of butter can be put on top to help promote browning. The mixture is placed in an oven and allowed to cook until it has set and the top of the kirschenmichel has browned.
The finished kirschenmichel can be served hot, cold or at room temperature. It goes well with sweet side dishes such as ice cream or sweetened whipped cream. Thick vanilla cream sauces or icing can be drizzled over the top, or it can be garnished with chocolate powder or chocolate shavings.