When I say bread pudding “as God intended it,” I mean using actual, stale, left-over bread heels. Buying fresh bread just to tear it up and dry it out is like using striploin to make sausage, or rolling a torchon of foie gras just to melt it into cooking fat.
To make bread pudding stale bread is soaked in milk, cream, eggs, and sugar, then pressed into a casserole and baked.
There is a continuum of bread pudding textures, ranging from the dense and eggy (the well-known Jack’s Grill (RIP) bread pudding was a good example) to the light and ethereal.
I want to take a paragraph to describe an interesting style of bread pudding that chef Nigel Weber taught me in culinary school at NAIT. He shingled slices of old bread in a tray, then poured what was essentially a creme brulee custard mix into the dish until the bread was submerged by two thirds. He then gently baked the tray as you would for a fine custard, and later used a blowtorch to burn the tips of the bread. And so in one spoonful the diner has a bit of pure, delicate custard, some slightly chewy bready bits, and then the crisp, scorched edges of the exposed bread. Still undeniably bread pudding, but a very interesting, thoughtful preparation. Classic Weber. Anyways.
Below is a very good recipe for cohesive but delicate bread pudding. What I like most about this recipe is that it uses the exact same ratio as all of the other custards on this site, 4-1-1 dairy, sugar, egg.
- 12 oz stale bread, cut into 1″ cubes
- 8 oz whole milk
- 8 oz heavy cream
- 4 oz eggs (about 2 large eggs…)
- 4 oz white sugar
- 1 tbsp salt
- optional garnishes: 6 oz fresh fruit, especially saskatoons or blueberries; 8 oz dried fruit, especially raisins; 3 oz chopped dark chocolate
- Whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, sugar, and salt. Pour the liquid over the stale bread. Toss until all the liquid has been absorbed by the bread. Let the mixture stand in the fridge for at least one hour, but preferably overnight.
- Fold any garnishes such as fruit or chocolate into the mixture.
- Set a pot of water on the stove to boil. Grease a loaf pan and line it with parchment. Pack the bread mixture into the loaf pan.
- Set the loaf pan into a roasting tray or casserole. Pour the boiling water into the tray so that it comes halfway up the side of the loaf pan.
- Bake in a 350°F oven until the centre of the pudding is set, about 40 minutes.
Rum Sauce, or Hard Sauce.
- 1 lb icing sugar
- 1/2 lb unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 2 fl oz rum
- Gently cook to remove the starchy taste of the sugar.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs and rum.
- Coat each slice of bread pudding with rum sauce, then broil the dish until there are a few burnt patches on top. This is a trick I picked up at Jack’s. The charred bitterness sets off the sweetness nicely.
For a more elegant sauce, consider custard sauce, crème anglaise.