Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cake of the Week: Bread Pudding

It is cold outside. I mean like winter-cold! As in, I'm wearing tights and boots today, and thinking maybe I should have done a scarf as well. As in, I wore pants and a long-sleeve to run last night!!!

Ok, ok, sorry to get all dramatic on you. I do love winter, but I was hoping that nice fall weather would last just a bit longer. 

But there are many good things about the coming of the cold: 
1. I sweat less when running.
2. I can wear my gray BU Track sweats and feel like a snuggly marshmallow. 
3. I can make/enjoy it's-cold-outside-so-I-want-to-be-warm-inside foods!

What better way to celebrate the coming of the cold than an ooey-gooey chunk of bread pudding and a cup of hot chocolate?
Bread pudding is a completely new venture for me. One of my housemates works at a bakery (YES! score for me!), so we have a superabundance of bread at our house at all times. I'm not a huge bread person, but some of my favs include pine nut fig, cinnamon raisin, asiago cheese, and sourdough. 

Since we can't possibly use up all our bread before it goes stale (sadface), I have been experimenting with bread pudding possibilities. Basically, bread pudding is baked french toast. Eggs+milky something+spices+whatever you want = yum!

 You can make it richer by adding a lot of cream, or make it "lighter" by using non-fat milk. 

Thus far, I have made a plum bread pudding with challah bread and raisin-walnut bread, and a pumpkin-raisin-ricotta bread pudding with a combination of ciabatta, french loaf, and whole grain bread. 

Both times I only kind-of-sort-of followed a recipe. I think bread pudding is one of those you-have-to-practice-and-eyeball-it foods. From my minimal experience, I will tell you that it is important to have enough liquid for your bread (so don't be shy with your eggs/milk combo). Be sure to make it in advance and let it sit for a while before you bake. Also, I recommend baking it covered in tin foil for the first half-hour, and then removing the foil for the last 15 minutes. This lets it cook through before browning the top. 

Mmmmm the crispy top is the BEST PART. Sprinkle it with sugar for extra caramelization!
And, per usual, I recommend serving with any/all of the following: ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, chopped nuts. 
Here's a good Paula Deen base recipe:


  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large beaten eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brandy


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.

Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and pecans.

Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

For the sauce:

Mix together the granulated sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir together until the sugar is melted. Add the brandy, stirring well. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

And here's a list of variations I've found to inspire you:

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Plum Brioche Bread Pudding

Triple Chocolate Bread Pudding