Bread Pudding with a Crisp
If you think bread pudding is that mushy substance that you find at almost every buffet, think again. This bread pudding has a crisp streusel topping of butter, brown sugar and pecans on top of it, and with the creamy and cinnaminny sweet bread custard underneath with just a hint of rum, it’s just the bomb! All the time I was making this, Steve was reminding me that “when I was a kid, I used to hate bread pudding”. After the third or fourth time, I said, OK, but just try this. I think you’ll like it. Well, guess what? We both gobbled it up, then he kept sneaking back into the kitchen to “even it off”. Then we had a second helping later in the evening, and finished it off for breakfast the next day. The neighbor didn’t even get any!
This recipe is based on one from Paula Deen. Hers has a home-made melted sugar and brandy sauce spooned over top, but I found that, although delicious, it made the whole dessert much too sweet. And besides, I didn’t have any brandy to make the sauce. Or any cream for that matter. But I used her idea for the pecan crisp topping, so thanks, Paula. I think bread pudding came about to use up bread that got dry after a couple of days, and god forbid that you would ever throw away food! That was in the days that bread didn’t come baked with twenty five chemical substances to ensure that it would never get stale. Plus, it is easy and economical. It’s still all those things. I usually make it with leftover french bread or baguette from the fresh-baked section of the store, so I know I am working with bread that tastes good. Plus, that is about the only time that I buy white bread. I use raisins in mine – I think it adds a lot of flavor. But you can leave them out if you want. The only other thing that you MUST have is roasted pecans (or walnuts). I always have roasted pecans and almonds in my fridge. The roasting brings out the flavor so well, and I use them in salads as well as in baking. If you don’t have any already done, here’s what you do:
Spread out pecans on a baking sheet. Pop them in the oven at 300 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes. They should have a fragrant smell, and be just starting to take on a light brown look. Take them out, let them cool down, and they are ready to use. Store them in a zip-lock bag in the fridge to keep them at their peak flavor until you use them. Try them in coleslaw with diced apple and pecans, or with craisins and pecans, or in a spinach salad with craisins and goat cheese and pecans. And throw some into your chocolate cookie batter – yum!
Anyway, back to bread pudding. Here is how you do it:
1. Here is the pudding after I poured the custard on top, but before I put the topping on.
2. Here the topping is all mixed up and ready to be sprinkled on top of the bread pudding.
3. Topping in on, and it’s ready to go into the oven.
5. And here it is, all cooked and ready to be served up. The picture doesn’t do it justice. This is so delicious, you will be wow’d!!
This bread pudding has a crisp streusel topping of butter, brown sugar and pecans on top, with a creamy and cinnaminny sweet bread custard underneath. The raisins are optional, but I like them. Same with the rum or brandy flavor – it adds a subtle note of class to an everyday dessert.
- 5 – 6 cups white bread cubes (day-old or a bit dry)
- ½ cup raisins
- 5 eggs
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 3 cups milk (whole or 2% is best)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp rum or brandy flavoring (or 2 Tbsp of the real thing) (optional but good)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
For the Topping:
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped toasted pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 12 inch pan with cooking spray.
- Dice up your bread, and place it in the prepared pan. Distribute raisins evenly over top.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar together. Add milk and flavorings and cinnamon and whisk until foamy. Pour over top of the bread and raisins in the pan.
- In separate small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the topping. Sprinkle evenly over top of the bread pudding in the pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes or until the middle of the pudding is bubbling and the custard is cooked. Serve warm.
Don’t substitute whole wheat bread here – the delicate flavor of the custard is overwhelmed by the brown bread taste. Use french bread or baguettes – something with some texture to it – not the squishy Wonder Bread type of bread. I recently used some leftover Easter Bread, and it was really good too!