If you're coming off of Easter with a fridge full of extra eggs, or you've started to fantasize about bread as you press on through a week of only matzoh, bread pudding might be just the ticket, now, or later this week. And, whether you choose to make it because you've got something you need to use up (eggs, milk, stale bread), or just because you love it, bread pudding delivers a whole lot of dessert satisfaction with just a small amount of effort.
Bread pudding is made by soaking slightly stale bread in a custard of eggs, egg yolks, milk, and cream, then pressing the mixture into a pan or baking dish, and baking it in an oven until the custard sets up. It's best served warm and is perfectly good on it's own, but you can make a proper plated dessert by serving it with a sauce of fruit, caramel, or chocolate. Many people accent the flavor and texture of the pudding itself by adding dried fruit, nuts, berries, zest, extracts, or spices to the mix. With a good base recipe, there's really no right or wrong when it comes to bread pudding.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- While you can make a bread pudding with pretty much any type of bread, enriched breads with a good chew, like challah, kaiser rolls, or brioche usually produce the best results.
- Don't forget to grease the sides and the bottom of the pan with butter before you begin.
- Be sure to securely cover the pudding with foil for the first 30 minutes of baking, which will facilitate even cooking and keep the top from drying out.
Click through the slideshow for step-by-step details to get you started, then check out my recipe for basic bread pudding. Don't hesitate to mix in some raisins, chopped chocolate, or whatever your heart desires.
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.