Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Proof’s in the Bread Pudding

I never had bread pudding when I was growing up. That’s probably because in a busy family with two parents working and four kids at home, stale bread was one rare commodity. It was a whole lot more likely for us to be out of bread completely!

Today, though, in an empty nest household, stale bread happens a lot more than I’d like, no matter how carefully I think I plan. I often freeze extra bread, sometimes make crumbs with the older stuff, but this time, I decided to make bread pudding. Just the name conjures up all kinds of cozy images and good cinnamon-y smells. I think I can smell a fresh cup of coffee along with it.

Many of the bread pudding recipes I’ve looked at asked for “stale Italian bread” or offered “ciabatta is best,” but they all said any stale bread will do. I think freezer burn is close to stale so I dug out a package of hot dogs buns that have been sitting in the freezer since Labor Day “just in case.” Here's my case.

A recipe from a beautiful blog, The Meaning of Pie, was my inspiration. The only things I did differently than Kelly was to sprinkle the dried cranberries and chopped walnuts (Christmas baking leftovers) over the milk soaked bread cubes before pouring the eggs over the mixture. I did let my hot dog buns sit on the counter naked so they would be drier. And I added a luscious and gooey vanilla sauce, so good I could have eaten it alone with a spoon. (Just a couple.) Eating the warm bread pudding, topped with the warm vanilla sauce and that hot cup of coffee almost makes winter worthwhile.  Next time, though, I'm thinking some brandy-soaked raisins would be nice.  And a little brandied-coffee, too.  That sounds like a real warmer-upper.

Bread Pudding
from The Meaning of Pie

About 4 cups (or more) torn bread, any leftover dried out bread you may have
2 cups milk
1 cup half and half
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of salt
½ stick butter
3 eggs
Topping:  ¼ cup granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a casserole dish and fill it with torn bread. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, half-and-half, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter until just melted and combined. Pour the milk over the torn bread and let it sit for about five minutes, being sure to submerge any bread pieces. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and then pour over the bread. Carefully fold the eggs into the bread mixture until they’re well incorporated.

For the topping, mix the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over the top of the filled casserole.

To bake, use a water bath. Place the bread pudding dish in a pan large enough to hold it and place them together in the preheated oven. Very carefully, pour boiling water into the larger dish so it comes halfway up the sides of the bread pudding dish. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out (pretty) clean.

Vanilla Sauce

½ cup butter
½ cup granulated white sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla

Bring all the ingredients except the vanilla to a boil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.


  1. It warms me down to my toes. I adore bread pudding and always have to "make bread stale" in order to create it. We also never, ever have stale bread! Just looking at the photos soothes the winter beast inside me.

  2. This sounds great! Since I am gluten-free the stale quality of the bread if very different. I finally decided I'm going to make it if I want to even if the bread is not stale! Maybe not perfect but always good.

  3. I know some people let their bread get dry (or stale)on purpose -- just for bread pudding!

  4. If there was good fresh baking like yours around our house, Monet, my husband would never allow anything to get stale!

  5. Scrumptious looking bread pudding, i love the vanilla sauce with it, excellent!


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