Oh, humble bread pudding, where have you been all my life? It’s hard to believe this extraordinarily simple but incredibly tantalizing dessert has never been a part of my life! Not once do I remember it gracing my lips. Don’t you feel sad for me? I do.
After being tempted by far too many bread pudding recipes spread from one end of the Internet to the other, I had to find out what the big attraction was. In order for me to execute my own ideas I needed to find out what made bread pudding tick. Because I didn’t have a clue. What I found was a surprisingly basic recipe of sweet custard (eggs, milk and sugar) that is poured over stale bread pieces and slowly baked. Anything more than that is the ‘icing’ on the cake, because all kinds of delicious things can be added, it’s what I like to call a ‘kitchen sink’ recipe. Whatever you have on hand in the cupboard and fruit drawer can be used; bananas, figs, apples, pumpkin, any kind of nut or dried fruit, spices, extracts and even liquor!
This is my new favorite way to use up stale bread. And indeed just about any kind of bread can be used, even sweet, quick breads like banana or pumpkin, challah, brioche and even donuts or cinnamon rolls! The key is to let them get a little stale so they soak up the custard easily. And then let them hang out for a couple of hours in the custard to allow it time to soak in, before baking. There is a world of possibilities and I’m so happy that I’m a part of it now! I have 101 recipe ideas. I have to make up for lost time, right?
I dressed mine up with eggnog, apples, walnuts and raisins. And spiced it up with vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The eggnog serves in sweetening up the custard so you don’t need to add any sugar and it also adds egg yolk to it so you need less eggs. Not to mention the ton of distinctive eggnog flavor that is front and center in every single, decadent bite. The custard transforms the bread so that it almost resembles cake. I allowed mine to sit for three hours before baking so every last drop of custard could be soaked up by the french bread.
This is layered with bread on the bottom and apples, walnuts and raisins spread over top. They caramelize into this sometimes chewy, sometimes crunchy topping that is just wonderful with the soft, moist bread underneath. I couldn’t be any happier with the way my first flirtation with bread pudding turned out!
If this isn’t a warm hug on a plate then please tell me what is?!
9-10 cups French or Italian bread, cubed
2 cups apples, cubed
2/3 cup raisins, chopped
2/3 cups walnuts, chopped
4 cups eggnog
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup brown sugar
1. In a deep sided 9×13 metal baking pan add the bread cubes, arrange apples evenly over top then sprinkle with raisins and walnuts.
2. In a large mixing bowl whisk eggnog, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and nutmeg together. Pour over top of bread cubes. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or over night.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle or sift brown sugar over top. Place the pan on a sheet pan and put in the oven. Add boiling water carefully to the sheet pan so it comes at least a third of the way up the side of the bread pudding pan. Bake for one hour. Remove the bread pudding from the sheet pan to cool. Allow the sheet pan/water to cool off completely before removing. Serve with whip cream warm, at room temperature or cold. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
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