I’ve always thought bread pudding sounded weird…and it is, sort of. The texture reminds me somewhat of a quiche, but sweet instead of savory. I had never even tasted it until I was an adult and decided to experiment with a variety of desserts for Christmas one year. I was hesitant, but bread pudding was one of the desserts I tried and it has been a Christmas tradition ever since. Even my kids loved it!
The recipe I have used is found in the Joy of Cooking cookbook by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. (If you’re interested in the book itself, I’ve posted the link at the end of this post.) Some years I made it plain with no raisins, other years I added raisins or craisins, and this year I added a mixture or golden raisins, craisins and dried cherries (this one is my new fave!) I make it with the recommended Whiskey Sauce (the alcohol is cooked out).
This dessert is very rich, so small pieces are enough to satisfy. While the recipe claims to serve 10-12, this recipe can easily serve 20+ people…
New Orleans Bread Pudding
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 loaves French Bread
1 cup raisins
3 large eggs
4 cups whole milk
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Spread softened butter over a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, preferably glass.
Cut the French bread into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange the slices almost upright in tightly spaced rows in the prepared pan. Tuck the raisins between the slices.
Whisk the eggs until frothy, then add milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon; whisk to combine. Pour liquid over the bread and let stand for one hour, pressing down now and then with a spatula to wet the top of the slices.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the pudding until the top is puffed and lightly browned, about 1 hour. Cover with Whiskey Sauce (below).
Let cool on a rack for 30-60 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup bourbon or other whiskey
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. salt
1 large egg
Melt the butter over low heat in a small heavy saucepan. Using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the sugar, bourbon, water, nutmeg, and salt. Cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is blended. Remove from heat.
Whisk the egg until light and frothy. Then while continuously whisking, slowly add about a quarter cup of the hot bourbon mixture. Vigorously whisk the egg mixture into the remaining bourbon mixture. Set the sauce over medium heat and, stirring gently, bring to a simmer. Cook until thickened. Serve at once, set aside at room temperature for up to 8 hours, or let cool then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
For milder sauce, replace up to half of the spirits with water. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.