When I was a child, bread pudding was a frequent visitor to our table. My father loved custard-y things and my mother’s bread pudding fit that bill perfectly. I make mine a bit different, but the roots are in that farm kitchen. Bread pudding is comfort food. Particularly in the fall and winter months. In summer, I add fresh fruit, or bananas, as in Banana-Bourbon Bread Pudding. And, peaches, nectarines, apricots and blueberries all work well, too. But, it seems I do usually add some sort of alcohol to the mixture…hmmm and mmmmm! My mother just soaked the raisins in water or orange juice.
This is a flexible recipe. Some people like a firm bread pudding. Some like a more custard-y version. This one is somewhere in between. It was a choice. And, the consistency you prefer, is your choice, too.
I like to tear the bread, rather than cut it. I also like to let it sit on the counter overnight, so that it dries on the outside, but is still slightly soft on the inside. For the fruit, I love to combine cranberries, apricots and dates (and sometimes dried pears, too). I pour some bourbon or rum on them. You know, just in case they’re dry…yes, that’s the reason I add it! This is a simple recipe. With just a bit of planning, it goes together in a flash. I just whisk everything together, stir in the bread and let it stand for 15 minutes. This allows the bread to absorb all the goodness.
Pour into a deep dish and bake. Done!
Pull it out of the oven when the center is still wobbly, particularly if you want the pudding to be creamier, rather than firm. Melted vanilla ice cream is divine spooned over this, as well. But a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream are also wonderful.
Bread Pudding with Bourbon-Soaked Fruit
- 4-6 cups day-old bread chunks (see NOTE)
- 1 cup raisins or a combination of dried fruit (see NOTE)
- 3-4 tablespoons bourbon, rum or orange juice (optional-but very nice)
- 3-4 large eggs, beaten
- 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Grated zest of 1/2 orange or 1 tangerine (optional)
- 1/3-1/2 cup granulated sugar or maple sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4-2 cups milk (I prefer whole milk)
- 1 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 heavy cream, 1/2 half-and-half)
Tear the bread into large chunks, place one the counter or a cookies sheet and let stand overnight. You want the bread to dry out a bit, but not be crunchy-dry. Pour the liquid over the raisins; cover and let stand overnight.
The next morning, preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a deep soufflé dish; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla together. Use the extra egg, if you want a thicker custard. Combine the sugar, spices and salt; add to the eggs and whisk until combined.
Add the milk (use the extra milk if you want more custard, or the bread is very dry), and half-and-half (and heavy cream, if using); whisk to combine. Add the bread chunks and raisins, including any soaking liquid that might be left. Use a spatula to stir until thoroughly combined. Let stand for 10-15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the liquid. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes or until the center still jiggles and isn’t completely set. Cool completely or serve slightly warm, with whipped cream, or a Crème Anglaise and dust ever-so lightly with cinnamon.
NOTE: I like to use any decent quality bread for bread pudding. I tear, rather than cut the bread, into 3/4-inch chunks. I used challah and a slice of sour dough for this. I prefer to have the bread be dry, but not hard-dry. For the raisins, I usually prefer to use (as I did here) a combination of dried fruit—cranberries, dates and apricots are my favorite; sometimes I add a dried pear. I chop the fruit into cranberries-sized pieces. I prefer to serve bread pudding at room temperature or chilled.
Bread Pudding with Bourbon-Soaked Fruit Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2019. All rights reserved.