One of my first culinary classes was about 5 years ago. I had just graduated college and splurged on a class taught at a local school. It was the holidays and the class covered all sorts of delicious holiday dishes. Everything from brunch, to beef tenderloin, and even homemade jam was on the menu. Of all the recipes we learned the bread pudding was the best.
I couldn’t remember having ever had it before and couldn’t imagine not having it again. The crispy, crunchy bread and the creamy rich custard paired perfectly. I loved every single bite of it and couldn’t wait to make it again. Over the years I have made bread puddings over and over, each time a little different from the last. The base recipe never changes but the flavors vary with the season or my mood.
The recipe can be modified all kinds of ways from chocolatey to fruity to savory you can’t go wrong and you can be certain whatever you choose will be delicious. The base recipe below is will get you started and your imagination will help you finish.
No matter what type of pudding you want all bread pudding starts with day old bread. Separating the bread and only allowing half of it to soak in the custard while reserving the second half to be added on top just before baking gives you the perfect mix of rich delicious bread while still retaining its crispy, crunchy top. Baking the pudding until it is just set (it should wiggle like Jello) gives you the perfect rich and creamy texture.
The custard itself is a very simple mixture of eggs, milk, and cream. From there the recipe can be modified to be anything you like. Feeling like chocolate? Try chocolate chips, vanilla extract, and dried fruit. Feeling spicy? Try cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and nuts. Feeling savory? Leave out the sugar and add in rosemary, gruyere cheese, and pre-cooked bacon or mushrooms. The options are endless! Pictured is a sweet bread pudding with dried cherries, chocolate chunks, and pistachios as the mix-ins and amaretto as the flavoring.
To get you started on your bread pudding journey here is a base recipe to modify!
- yields 6-10 servings
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 ½ cups sandwich style bread, cut into cubes
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon flavoring
- 1 ½ cup mix-ins
- 2/3 cup grated cheese
- 2 tablespoons seasoning
- 2/3 cup mix-ins
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and grease an 8-inch souffle dish.
- In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, salt, milk, and cream until well combined. Stir in sugar, flavoring, and mix-ins (or cheese, seasoning, and mix-ins). Reserve ¼ cup of the mix-ins to sprinkle on top.
- Add 2 cups of the bread cubes to the mixture and allow to soak in the custard for 20 minutes.
- Pour mixture into the greased dish. Place remaining bread on top and gently press into the custard mixture until just coated. Brush the exposed bread with the melted butter to form a rich, crispy crust when baking.
- Place dish directly in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the bread on top is a golden brown color and the custard has set. It should wiggle a little, like Jello and have begun to rise slightly in the dish. If you are unsure you can insert a knife in the center of the pudding. It should come out with half set custard covering it (not liquid).
- Let cool until completely set, it will continue to cook for about 45 minutes after being removed from the oven. After it is cooled serve warm or chill in the refrigerator and serve cold.