One of the most comforting things I can think of on a bad day has got to be bread pudding. I was first exposed to it as a little girl on my first trip to Europe. London was as it should be, cold, wet and grey, but there was this little pub we went to for lunch, the Prince Albert (for those laughing, this was 1981, and the only Prince Albert anyone talked about was in a can). This was where I had my first bread pudding. I was hooked. Hit the jump for the recipe and more musings…
Bread Pudding is nothing more than bread drenched in a custard and then baked until it ‘puffs up’ and browns a bit. So if we look at it this way its really easy. So we take my standard formula for custard that I memorized when we got a bit nuts last year after buying an ice cream maker.Custard: 2 cups Whole Milk 2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream 1 1/2 cups sugar 8 eggs pinch of kosher salt
This is a really basic recipe, no flavour added. So lets start to look at the things we can toss in there for flavour. Just be careful with your amounts, I find a total of 2 tablespoons of flavour is about right for the custard amounts:vanilla cinnamon cardamom (a personal favorite) allspice clove nutmeg …and just about any spices you can think of.
Note: I don’t want to discourage anyone from making savory versions of bread pudding. I just haven’t tried it yet and don’t want to say its a ‘go’ until I’ve doctored my custard recipe.
Now we want to start thinking about bread. Tradition says use yesterdays stale bread, but in a modern, I have to have it now society, you can certainly use fresh. Some recipes I’ve looked at say that if your bread is fresh you should pre-toast the cubes. My opinion is that toasting your bread is a bit of an OCD move, if your going to soak your bread (which you are) toasting won’t make it any less soggy. We also want our bread to soak up the custard and that means soggy. Cube your bread into 1″ pieces. Lets look at types of bread you can use:French Brioche Challah (this is what I use) Crossants White Bread (yup the sliced stuff will work too) Country Breads Buttermilk Potato Bread …ect
This is your seriously basic bread pudding. Put the bread into a baking dish big enough to hold your bread cubes, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With a hand blender, mix your custard mixture along with what ever spices you want to use. Then pour the wet ingredients over the bread until just soaked (try to avoid standing egg mixture if you can) and bake for about 45 minutes. The Bread will brown on the top and ‘puff up’ when its all done. Easy right?
Okay, maybe a bit too easy. Here is the rest of my recipe with all the doctoring done to it:My spice mix 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1 1/2 tsp allspice 1 1/2 tsp cardamon 1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract 4 T butter, unsalted melted
2 c golden raisins and dried cherries soaked in ½ c bourbon for 30 min Toss the bread cubes and fruit in butter and then pour the custard mixture over top. Bake. Bourbon Sauce ½ stick softened unsalted butter ½ c sugar 1 egg 2 T bourbon Cream the butter and the sugar together for the sauce. In a double boiler set over water that is just above a simmer heat the butter, sugar, egg, and the bourbon. Stir until slightly thickened. Drizzle over top of each serving. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
Good luck! Check back soon for more versions.