Bread pudding is one of those desserts that is much more focused on ratios than it is on being exact, leaving a lot of room for creativity. There isn’t much actual “hands-on” time required with this dessert either, making it ideal for large gatherings.
READY IN: 15 minutes prep plus up to 8 hours soaking plus 1 hour baking
Day old bread*, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Cup Heavy Cream
3 Cups Whole Milk
2 Cups Sugar (brown sugar or regular sugar, either works well)
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ Teaspoon Nutmeg
½ Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
OPTIONAL VARIABLE INGREDIENTS:
Peaches (sliced), with Bourbon and Pecans
Apples*** (sliced), with Rum-Soaked Raisins or Dates and Walnuts
Pineapple chunks, Maraschino Cherries and Coconut with Coconut Rum
Orange Zest, Orange Marmalade, Grand Marnier, and Cranberries
- Butter the inside of a large baking dish, 13” x 9” or larger, generously. Fill the bottom half of the dish with cubed bread. Add in some of your variable ingredients as desired. Add more bread followed by more variable ingredients, repeating until your baking dish is completely full. Strive to have about a ¼ variable ingredients to 3/4 bread ratio by volume for optimal baking.
- In a medium mixing bowl combine the heavy cream, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Pour over your cubed bread until all the bread is soaked. Cover your baking dish with plastic wrap and put the bread pudding in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight to soak, this allows the flavors to fully develop. Reserve any leftover liquid and put it in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator as you’ll want to drizzle a little bit over the top of the bread pudding before it goes into the oven.
- When ready to bake, drizzle some leftover liquid over the top of your bread pudding, you don’t want it too wet, usually not more than a ½ cup does the trick. Bake in 350 degree F oven for 1 hour on the center rack, or until the center of your bread pudding reaches 160 degrees F. Let sit at room temperature for about a half hour or more before serving, this allows the custard to firm itself.
*Your options are limitless, you can use brioche, baguette, croissants, even left-over hamburger buns will work wonderfully here
**Bread pudding is delicious on its own, however, you can always make it extra special with a streusel topping. A quick streusel comes together with ¾ Cup Cold Butter, 1 Cup Sugar and 2 Cups All Purpose Flour. Cut your butter into half inch chunks. Combine everything in a bowl and massage the butter into the flour and sugar. At the end add in a ½ Teaspoon Cinnamon and 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract. If using this with your bread pudding recipe, sprinkle on top of your bread pudding before it goes into the oven.
***If your variation includes apples, make sure to give your apple slices a quick dip in a saltwater solution to prevent them from browning during the soaking stage. About ¼ Teaspoon Salt to 2 Cups Water does the trick twice as effectively as lemon juice.
****Should you have some leftover soaking liquid, pour it into a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often. Continue stirring the liquid until it reaches 160 degrees. Remove from the heat and stir in some extra vanilla or bourbon and pour through sieve into heat-proof vessel. This would technically be a cooked custard that’s not quite an Anglaise. The extra bit of flavor from this custard takes this simple dessert over the top.
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