One of my favorite things about this blog and my food journey is learning all about food and where it comes from. With every farm tour, I get a new appreciation for farmworkers and for the passionate people who make the products that we consume.
I did not know the history behind Cascadian Farm until I was invited to tour their original farm. It is a two-hour drive from Seattle, through the lush evergreen forest nestled in the foothills of the breathtaking North Cascades Mountain Range.
It all started with an amazing story of a man named, Gene Kahn who set out to find the perfect land in 1972 to farm organic food and make a difference in the world. I mean, seriously who has that kind of vision, especially in the 70’s? He found the perfect location next to the Skagit River in the Cascade Mountains of Washington, and from there began the original farm for Cascadian Farm.
This 28-acre farm is the birthplace of the Cascadian Farm and after 40 plus years, it is still rooted with organic values.
At this farm, they grow crops while protecting the local ecosystem using sustainable organic methods.
Today, the fields are producing mostly fresh blueberries, but they also farm organic strawberries, raspberries, kiwi berries, peppers, corn, pumpkins, and they have a pollinator garden to attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to ensure pollination.
Now, there are 100,000 acres certified organic farmland that they source from in addition to the original Cascadian Farm, but this land is where it all started.
The location is so enchanting and kind of feels like you set foot in a make-believe land. It is quiet and serene, and there’s a majestic fog that rolls in and out of the mountains that the locals call “dragon’s breath” and that’s exactly what it looks like.
And what an amazing story – someone in the 70’s had a vision to grow food naturally just like Mother Nature intended. It was as if we stepped back in time, but at the same time stepped forward into the future of implementing better practices that regenerate our natural resources all while making a positive impact on people and the planet.
On our tour, we were gifted fancy red Hunter rain boots before we walked around the farm. Not only did we learn all about the food grown naturally, but we were also treated like royalty with a gorgeous farm-to-table dinner spread at the end of the day.
If I could re-create the perfect dinner setting that would be it.
Long farm tables placed on an open field surrounded by quiet farmland with hipster cocktail party music playing in the background. Warm fleece blankets that draped our laps, and the scent of cedar planked salmon grilling over blueberry wood lingering in the forest.
It was legit amazing to say the least.
The menu was incredible and the dessert that I’m sharing with you today is inspired from two of the items that were served that evening.
The dinner started with a berry and bourbon smash cocktail made with Cascadian Farm organic harvest berries, bourbon, maple, coriander, and star anise simple syrup. It was beyond delicious and oozed the love and passion of the farm in the first sip.
For one of the desserts, they served homemade shortcakes served with Cascadian Farm berries and vanilla bean coconut cream. One bite and I was in berry bliss.
This classic bread pudding is served with a bourbon sauce, topped with warm harvest berries, and vanilla ice cream.
These mini bread puddings can be made in ramekins, a large muffin pan, or mini cast iron skillets. They are a delicious dessert to really impress and can be served any time of year because the berries are frozen, so no matter if it’s summer or winter or anywhere in between you can make this delicious boozy dessert.
If you ever have the opportunity to visit Cascadian Farm I promise you will not regret it. They get thousands of visitors from all over the world stopping in to see the farm and the roadside stand for a pint of fresh, seasonal berries or homemade organic ice cream. You’ll be glad you made the unforgettable trip.
Oh, I forgot to share a funny story about the trip. An older woman asked a lady on the farm, “Who are all the girls wearing red boots?” And she said, “They are bloggers.” “Loggers? They don’t look like loggers!”
Bourbon Bread Pudding with Mixed Berry Sauce
Bourbon Bread Pudding:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, for ramekins
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 8 ounces piloncillo or 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 1 16 ounce day-old French bread , , cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Bourbon Bread Pudding:
- Butter six 10-ounce ramekins, large muffin pan, or mini cast iron skillets
- Combine water, cinnamon sticks, and piloncillo in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, creating a syrup. Simmer syrup uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep, covered for 1 hour. Discard cinnamon sticks.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, whisk together syrup, eggs, milk, bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Toss in the bread cubes, and stir gently to evenly coat; let stand a few minutes. Divide among prepared dishes, pressing down slightly to make level.
- Bake until set in the center and top is golden, about 40 minutes. If bread browns too quickly, cover loosely with aluminum foil. Remove from oven; let cool slightly.
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add sugar, milk, bourbon, and salt, stirring until incorporated and smooth.
Harvest Berry Sauce:
- Combine the berries, sugar, and cornstarch in a saucepan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Continue to simmer it until the berries have released all of their liquid, about 5 to 8 minutes. The sauce will thicken slightly. Use a wooden spoon to combine.
- To serve, un-mold bread pudding onto plates.
- Pour bourbon sauce over top of bread pudding and top with warm berry sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- If you don't have any day-old bread on hand, bake fresh bread in the oven for about 10 minutes.
- Bread pudding is best served warm, but can be kept refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.
Thank you to Cascadian Farm and TheFeedfeed for the amazing trip. This blog post is sponsored and as always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
Photography by Jenna Sparks + Yvette