Restaurant: Back in the Day Bakery

Owners and head bakers: Cheryl and Griff Day

Restaurant bio: Back in the Day Bakery owners and bakers Cheryl and Griffith Day have been treating us well from their Bull Street shop for more than a decade, but you may not realize they serve lunch, too.

"Well, we wanted to be a neighborhood bakery," Cheryl says. "We wanted to be a place where people would come, gather and connect with one another. We also wanted to keep the art of scratch baking alive."

The majesty of the home-spun culture and recipes went into a very successful "Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook" released in 2012. From-scratch means there are a lot of variables that home bakers need to understand.

"You can have a fail-proof recipe, make it today, and have it come out fine," Griff explains. "Three months from now it'll be different due to the weather or maybe your eggs weren't brought up to temp. It takes a long process to see that."

Pancetta-Fontina Bread Pudding

Serves 12

Bread pudding dates back centuries, and the basic recipe offers endless opportunities for sweet or savory variations. In this version, we combine the delicate nuttiness of Fontina cheese with salty Pecorino and pancetta. Hearty crusty loaves, such as French baguettes or Italian ciabatta, are best in this recipe.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 pound thickly sliced pancetta or applewood-smoked bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup finely diced sweet onions, such as Vidalia

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon herbes de Provence

2 teaspoons minced fresh sage

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

5 large eggs

3 cups half-and-half

1 1/2pounds crusty bread, such as a baguette, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 9 cups)

2 cups grated Fontina cheese (about 9 ounces)

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish with olive oil.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and almost crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a bowl and set aside.

Add the onions and garlic to the skillet, turn the heat down to medium-low, and sauté until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the herbes de Provence, sage, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using, and cook for 1 minute, stirring to combine. Add the onion mixture to the bowl with the pancetta and toss to combine.

Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until blended. Add the half-and-half and whisk until blended.

Spread a layer of bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Spread half of the onion-pancetta mixture on top. Reserve 1/2 cup of the Fontina cheese and scatter half the remaining cheese over the onion mixture, followed by the rest of the bread, the remaining onion-pancetta mixture, and the other half of the Fontina. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Let sit for 10 minutes, pressing on the bread occasionally to help it absorb the liquid.

Cover the baking dish with foil and poke holes in it for venting. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil and top the bread pudding with the reserved Fontina and the Pecorino Romano. Bake, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.

[Excerpted from The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook by Cheryl Day & Griffith Day (Artisan Books). Copyright 2012.]