I’m on a bit of a dessert craze right now. My sweet tooth is tingling and I’ve been dreaming about bread pudding. Not that dry flavorless stuff you get at the buffet, but moist deep flavored goodness that leaves you begging for more. This post is based on a recipe from my favorite cookbook of all time; “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen.”
If I was stuck on a desert island with only one cookbook (a desert island with a kitchen, of course), this is the one I would want. I get hungry just thinking about the recipes in this cookbook. Paul Prudhomme takes his flavors very seriously, and will stop at nothing to ensure they are richly developed. My kind of chef. My recipe below is very close to the original, but not exact.
I have loved bread pudding as long s I can remember. My mom whipped up a pretty good bread pudding when I was a child, and ever since then, if I see bread pudding on a menu, I immediately think about trying it. Unfortunately, I have eaten far more disappointing bread puddings than I have eaten delicious ones. A sad situation, which I am guessing has not done much to elevate the stature of bread pudding in the public eye. I think this bread pudding can change that. Spread the word.
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (don’t you dare use the fake stuff!)
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly ground is nice if you’ve got it)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) melted butter
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup raisins (regular or golden)
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped (Trader Joe’s sells them ready to use)
5 cups stale white bread with crust on, cubed (I use Challah bread, but other types like French or Italian are fine)
Butter Rum Sauce Ingredients:
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons rum (or bourbon or brandy)
First, ensure your bread is nice and stale. If you slice good bread into 3/4” cubes and leave them out overnight, you should be good to go.
Preheat oven to 300°. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk until they are extremely frothy (and you are tired of whisking at 100 miles per hour). You can do it in an electric mixer if you prefer, but this is the only ingredient that requires any serious energy, so I say “why bother.” Add the remaining ingredients (except the bread) and mix thoroughly. Grease a loaf pan and distribute the bread cubes evenly. Based on the photos, you can see that I used a 9×13 cake pan, but the end result was not thick enough for me, although certainly tasty. Next time I will use a loaf pan or a smaller cake pan. I have no idea why I chose this cake pan. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes and then toss them by hand or with a spatula to ensure the mixture is evenly distributed in the pan. The goal is to ensure all bread is wet with the mixture. Dry bread pudding will not be served in my casa. Let the mixture sit on the counter for about 45 minutes to ensure the bread soaks up all that delicious liquid. Are you hungry yet?
Bake for 40 minutes, then increase the oven temperature to 425° and bake another 15-20 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and puffy, but not burnt. The very edge might look a little burnt, but if the center is burnt, you have overbaked it. Watch it closely after it’s been at 425° for 10 minutes and make sure it’s just right.
You may serve warm or at room temperature.
Now it’s time to make the sauce. Paul Prudhomme has a beautiful Chantilly Cream sauce in his book, but I also like a butter rum sauce based on a recipe I found on a site called “Bread Pudding All Day.” Lightly beat the egg and place it with the sugar and butter in a small saucepan. Whisk continuously over low heat until mixture thickens. Do not boil. Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat and stir in rum. Pour a small quantity of sauce over each slice of bread pudding as it is served. Your challenge is to see if you can eat only one slice. If you can, you are a better person than I am. I love this stuff!