Dish of the Week: Classic Bread Pudding

A drizzle of caramel or whiskey sauce makes the sweet bread pudding extra decadent.
A drizzle of caramel or whiskey sauce makes the sweet bread pudding extra decadent.
Photo by opacity

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're indulging in a classic comfort food: Bread Pudding.

Bread pudding is a dessert consisting of stale bread that is soaked in a custard-like mixture before being baked. It is often spiced with things like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla and served with a sweet sauce (whiskey, rum, chocolate or caramel based). We know the dish as a Southern classic, however it is popular all over the world, including in places like Argentina, Belgium, India, Ireland, the Philippines, Slovakia and the Puerto Rico, to name a few.

Food historians have traced the dish's origins to the early 11th and 12th centuries, where it was created as a frugal way to use stale bread. In 13th century England, it was referred to as "poor man's pudding." Then, it was likely a simple mixture of stale bread, milk, and some form of fat and sweetener.

Today, the addition of eggs and other flavors, spices, and add-ins like liquors, fruit, nuts, and chocolate have turned the humble dish into something a bit more luxurious. It can even be made savory through the edition of cheese, herbs, vegetables, and meats.

This recipe from Emeril Lagasse, is made "New Orleans style" with a decadent, creamy whiskey sauce drizzled on top. A touch of cinnamon and nutmeg and raisins give the dessert depth.

New Orleans Style Bread Pudding

Ingredients yields 10 to 12 servings For the bread pudding: 12 to 14 cups 1-inch cubes day-old bread (French or Italian) 1 tbsp unsalted butter 2 cups heavy cream 4 cups whole milk 6 large eggs 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp light brown sugar 4 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 tsp salt 1/2 cup raisins Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

For the whiskey sauce: 2 cups heavy cream 1/2 cup whole milk 1/2 cup granulated white sugar 2 tbsp cornstarch 3/4 cup bourbon or other whiskey Pinch salt 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Optional: Ice cream

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Grease a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish with butter and set aside.

Combine the heavy cream, milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and raisins in a large bowl. Whisk to mix. Pour the cream mixture over the bread, stirring to combine. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.

Transfer the bread mixture to the casserole dish and bake until the center of the bread pudding is set, 50 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the whiskey sauce: In a 1-quart saucepan set over medium heat, combine the cream, milk, and sugar. Place the cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the bourbon in a small mixing bowl, whisking to blend and make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the cream mixture and bring to a boil. Once the sauce begins to boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat, add the salt, and stir in the butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of bourbon.

Garnish the bread pudding with confectioners' sugar and serve warm with warm whiskey sauce. Add a scoop of ice cream if you really want to take it over the top.

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