I have shared, in the past, my love of bread pudding. I mean, what’s not to like: bread, egg custard, sweet & unctuous sauce, plump raisons. It’s become a family joke that if there’s bread pudding on a restaurant menu I’m most likely going to try it out. Even if I’ve eaten too much to begin with . NOT SMART — but that’s what compulsions are all about, aren’t they? I really have to try living that saying,
Eat Dessert First
My problem — and it’s been a problem — is finding bread pudding with enough egg custard in the recipe to suit my taste. Which is to say I like a bread pudding which has thoroughly saturated the bread, where the custard serves to hold the bread pieces together. Of course any bread pudding is only as good as the bread, and too many recipes were designed to be made with cheap-white-bread — to borrow from my generation — the equivalent of WonderBread. NO! If you’re going to make a quality bread pudding you need quality ingredients — including quality bread — and any good,hearty, artisanal bread is going to soak up a good deal more egg custard than most recipes call for.
This bread pudding recipe is based on one from the famed Bon Ton Cafe in New Orleans with my own alterations.
The sauce is loaded with bourbon, so you might want to use somewhat less. You might end up dazed and happy just thinking about it.
Lacking a ‘normal’ household oven I like bread pudding because it’s something we can do in our micro/convection oven without difficulty — and it takes less than 90 minutes — the artificial limit Sharp imposes on the longest cook cycle.
- Prep time: 10 minutesCook time: 1 hour
- Yield: Makes 8-10 servings
- 1 loaf French bread, at least a day old, cut into 1-inch squares (about 6-7 cups) Please don’t use an ITALIAN bread in the place of the French. We want the greater “chew” afforded by a quality French loaf. If you are so inclined feel free to use a sourdough loaf — it’ won’t hurt the flavor at all!!!!
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup raisins (soaked two hours in 1/4 cup bourbon)
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place milk in a large mixing bowl and add the bread that has been cut into squares. Press the bread into the milk with your hands until all of the milk is absorbed.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, then whisk in the sugar, vanilla, allspice and cinnamon. Pour over the bread and milk mixture. Add the bourbon soaked raisins and gently stir to combine.
- Pour the melted butter into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the butter. Pour the bread milk and egg mixture into the baking pan. Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, until the liquid has set. The pudding is done when the edges start getting a bit brown and pull away from the edge of the pan. Can also make in individual ramekins.
- While the bread pudding is cooing, make the bourbon sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan on low heat. Add the sugar and egg and whisk to blend well. Slowly cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, then remove from heat. Do not allow the mixture to simmer! (Or the sauce will curdle. By the way, if your sauce curdles, just take it off the heat and blend it smooth in a blender.) Whisk in bourbon to taste. Whisk again before serving. The sauce should be soft, creamy, and smooth.
- Serve the bread pudding with bourbon whiskey sauce on the side; pour on to taste. Best fresh and eaten the day it is made.