“Making sweet pudding from layered stale bread and custard in one of the kindest things you can do to old bread. The transformation is Cinderella-like: what was once a bag of dry, not very nice bread suddenly becomes one of the most delicious desserts you could eat.” So starts the recipe for the New Orleans Creole Bread Pudding in my “From Pantry to Table” cookbook (by Marlena Spieler). The peak moment of my cooking career was serving this dessert to Grandma Grace when she made a rare visit to my house in Seattle, over 15 years ago. She said it was the best bread pudding she had ever eaten! Cooking compliments from Grace were coveted in my family, and if I do say so, it was a spectacular, fluffy, caramelized wonder.
I made this bread pudding for the break-the-fast pot luck after Yom Kippur, and although it didn’t have the benefit of coming from oven right to the table, it was finished off rather quickly. I told Lorna Jean and Pamela I would give them the recipe, so now you all have it. It is NOT eating lean, but I love making use of things that others might throw out, and it IS worth it. Go take a walk afterwards.
12 slices of French or Italian bread (I used leftover Challah this time, which made it very light, but sometimes I make use of the heels of wheat bread and get a nuttier, denser texture.)
½ C butter (1 stick, but sometimes I cheat and use less )
½ C sugar
2 C milk
½ C brandy
2 egg yolks (I always use the whole eggs-why throw away the protein?)
¼ C golden raisins
1 Tablespoon butter for dotting on top (very important for caramelizing tips of the bread sticking out)
- Preheat oven to 375. Cover the bottom of a 9×13” baking pan with the bread slices, broken if need be to fin the the pan more or less evenly and flat. I never do this. My pieces are always chunky.
- Heat butter, sugar, milk, and brandy until sugar is dissolved. Cool.
- Beat in egg yolks, add raisins, and pour custard over the bread. Press bread down to get the pieces to soak up the custard.
- Dot top with butter and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Serve each portion topped with a spoonful of brandy sauce (1/2 C brown sugar, 4 Tbl butter, ¼ C brandy boiled for a minute or two for carmelized flavor, but do not cook longer or you’ll get candy!)
Oh, and I still have some of the Brandy sauce left over… what should I do with that? Any thoughts? I already considered making more bread pudding but that’s not going to happen.