Your Perfect Bread Pudding for the Holidays

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Your Perfect Bread Pudding for the Holidays

December 21, 2015

Sweet, creamy bread pudding is a showstopper for any winter holiday table. It's easy to make (all your ingredients ultimately go in one baking dish, just like a casserole) and serves a large group for dessert or brunch. You can use any dried fruit (raisins are my favorite) and flavorings (vanilla or a liqueur of your choice). Follow these instructions: 

Recipe: Bread Pudding


For the custard:

  • 1 quart half and half (or substitute whole milk)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 ounce of vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 6 egg yolks

For the bread:

  • 2 ounces raisins
  • 6 ounces of French, Italian, or brioche bread cut into half-inch cubes
  • 3 ounces melted butter
  • 5 cups of the custard
  1. On a sturdy cutting board, split the vanilla bean with a sharp knife, scrape out the seeds, and place the pod and the seeds in a medium-sized saucepan with the milk and sugar. (If you're using vanilla extract, wait to add it in step 4.) Put the saucepan on a stovetop burner set to medium heat.
  2. While waiting for the milk mixture to boil, whisk the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl.
  3. When the milk mixture boils, take the saucepan off the heat and remove the vanilla bean pod. Slowly pour the milk mixture into the eggs in a thin stream and keep whisking. If you pour too fast, you'll scramble the eggs.
  4. Strain the batter into another large bowl and skim any foam off the surface. If you'd like, stir in your favorite liqueur or add the vanilla extract. This is your custard. Now turn to preparing the bread.
  5. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  6. Fill a small pot halfway up with water. Add the raisins, bring them to a boil, drain, and set aside.
  7. In a 1.5-to-2-quart baking dish, toss the bread cubes with the melted butter and scatter them with the raisins.
  8. Pour the custard over the bread in the baking dish.
  9. Place the baking dish into a larger pan, such as a roasting pan. Pour hot tap water in the larger pan until it comes at least halfway up the baking dish. The water bath makes for gentle, uniform heating, so the custard doesn't curdle.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until the custard sets. The custard is set when it has a slight jiggle but is no longer fluid.

Serve this dessert with cheer and love to family members and friends at your next holiday gathering.

By Robert Rizzuto