The holidays aren't complete without a little homemade Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce! It seems very fancy when you're serving it...our little secret...it's really easy to make!
We found a recipe my Mother has -- the notes on the scratch pad say, "delicious- from a Creole restaurant." This was written in the early 80's...Then it lists the ingredients with a few measurements for the cinnamon and nutmeg, as well as heating instructions--vague, to say the least.
We studied that recipe and had many questions:
how much bread?
what kind of bread?
what size pan?
So, we started comparing her "recipe" to others...we found that many required similar ingredients, but in different proportions...some used cream versus whole milk while others used half-n-half...
I knew if we had that many questions, you would, too. So, I've tried to address every question in order to make this seemingly difficult bread pudding recipe even easier!
Read the Tips below and recipe notes first...
What is bread pudding?
Bread pudding is a bread-based custard, typically with warm seasonings of cinnamon and nutmeg. It often includes currants (raisins) and is served with warm liquer-based sauce such as whiskey bourbon or a hard sauce.
The concept is originally from Europe and was considered "poor man's food"- bread, soaked in milk and eggs and baked. The recipe was altered and bread pudding escalated to fine dining restaurants in Louisiana. Now, you'll find this warm bread pudding on just about every menu in the state!
Why you'll love this recipe!
- Easy to make - pretty straight-forward; nothing too difficult, but it does requre time to soak the bread
- Flavorful - sweet, but not too sweet
- Make ahead - you can make bread pudding and the sauce in advance; a great time-saver
- Light and airy - cooking the bread pudding custard in a hot water bath creates steam, which keeps the dessert light
- Great texture! -the top is lightly crunchy and the custard is soft, but not mushy
This recipe is not hard to make, but it is IMPORTANT you read the tips below, as well as the recipe notes before you begin.
What you'll need:
6 cups of cubed bread, milk, half-n-half, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, butter, sugar and whiskey bourbon (not pictured)
How to make it:
Preheat oven to 350ºF, put top rack in the middle slot of the oven and prepare the pans.
Next, get the bread and custard mixture together
After bread has soaked for an hour, pour it and the liquid into the glass baking dish; bake uncovered on middle rack at 350ºF until center is set.
Make the Whiskey Sauce:
Use a double boiler and melt butter on low heat; remove from heat and allow to cool about 10-minutes
Combine sugar and eggs in separate bowl
Gradually add sugar mixture to melted butter off heat - this means, remove the melted butter pan off the stovetop
Once all the sugar mixture has been added to the melted butter, return the saucepan back to the double boiler and continue cooking until most of the sugar is dissolved
When sugar is dissolved; remove from heat and allow to cool
Add whiskey, stir and drizzle over warm bread pudding
Tips for Bread Pudding:
Use an 8 x 8" baking dish (2-quart) for the pudding; you'll need a larger bowl for the hot-water bath
You'll need about 6 cups of cubed bread; this is equivalent to one skinny French baguette or half a loaf of the bigger French breads usually found in grocery store deli's
Cut the bread into ½" inch cubes
Ovens vary, so check the center with a knife after about 40-minutes
Place on middle rack in hot-water bath; this helps the custard set-up and keeps the top of the bread pudding from getting too crispy
Tips for the Whiskey Sauce:
Making the Whiskey Sauce requires patience (about 10-minutes) and low heat; this is because, if you add the sugar/egg mixture to hot butter, the egg will cook so, you have to work on super-low heat and work in increments.
Melt the butter on low in a double-boiler; remove from heat and allow to cool a bit
While the butter is off heat, gradually add in the sugar/egg mixture in increments, stirring well between
Once all the sugar/mixture has been added to the slightly warm butter, return the double-boiler sauce pans to the burner on low heat, stirring constantly
Continue stirring for about 3-4 minutes on low heat
As the sugar begins to dissolve, you can turn the heat up a little-still stirring constantly
After about 8-10 minutes, most of the sugar is dissolved; remove from heat and allow to cool before adding the whiskey
You only need about 3 tablespoons of whiskey for the sauce itself, but if you want to "sneak-a-sip," you'll need more:)
You can make this easy bread pudding and/or the whiskey sauce in advance. I recommend you bake it first, then refrigerate it versus refrigerating it unbaked...the eggs are the issue.
To reheat baked bread pudding, set the oven to 300ºF, cover the dish with foil, and bake 25-minutes, until the center is warm.
To reheat the sauce, place it in a saucepan on low heat and stir until the sugars are dissolved and the whiskey sauce is smooth and warm.
This classic Louisiana dessert goes great with just about everything! Serve it on a small plate or in individual ramekins.
If serving for a large group, plate bread pudding in ramekins and keep the sauce warm on the side for self-serving.
To keep it warm for longer periods, place it in a steaming rack
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Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
- 8" x 8" inch baking pan (2 quart pan)
- 9 x 13" pan to hold water
- 6 cups dried bread , cubed; (one long skinny French baguette or 3 7-inch hoagie rolls or ½ a loaf of Italian bread)
- 1 cup half-n-half
- 1½ cups milk , whole (you can use 2%)
- 4 whole large eggs
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon butter , to coat baking dish
- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 whole egg
- 3 tablespoons whiskey
- Cut bread into cubes (you need about 6 cups of cubed bread total)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine milk, half n half, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins
- Pour mixture over bread; coat well; allow to rest for 1 hour (stir occasionally)
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Put 8 x 8" baking pan in 9 x 13" pan; add water to the 9 x 13" until it the pan is half full
- Pour soaked bread and liquid into 8 x 8" pan
- Place both pans in oven on the middle rack, uncovered; bake 45-60 minutes on 350ºF until center is set (test with knife)
- While the pudding is baking make the sauce; melt one stick of butter in a double boiler on low heat; remove from heat; set aside
- In a bowl, combine sugar and egg
- Gradually add sugar/egg combination to melted butter (off heat), stirring constantly; return pan back to low heat; continue stirring; as sugar begins to dissolve, you can turn the heat up a little; when sugar is dissolved, remove pan from heat and set aside; allow to cool a little before the next step
- Stir in whiskey; plate bread pudding and drizzle warm sauce over it
- If you're making this for a big group, I recommend you double the recipe and bake it in a 9 x 13" pan.
- If you use a 9 X 13" pan, you're going to need a bigger pan to put the water in...get one of those aluminum pans at the grocery store, but be careful when removing it from the oven--take the 9 x 13" pan out first; then the aluminum pan with hot water
- 3-7"inch hoagies
- 1 skinny French baguette
- ½ loaf of Italian bread
- Use a double-boiler to make the sauce
- Allow the butter to cool slightly off-heat before adding the sugar/egg mixture, otherwise, the eggs will cook
- Add the sugar/egg mixture in increments, not all at once--stirring constantly
- Once all the sugar/egg mixture is combined, return the saucepan to the stove on low heat; stir, stir, stir...you'll begin to see the sugar dissolve
- Once you see the mixture becoming less grainy, you can turn the heat up a little
- After mixture is relatively smooth and not too grainy, remove from heat; allow to cool about 10-minutes before adding the whiskey
- 3-tablespoons of whiskey bourbon or dark rum
- You can eliminate the booze in the sauce if you like