Bread pudding. The words themselves are hardly inspiring. Stodgy, pedestrian, British, with those overtones of school dining halls and hospital food. There are some truly execrable bread puddings — dry, almost crusty, with little discernible flavor other than that provided by a few sugary raisins, and no give. And frankly, most bread puddings I’ve had in even the best bakeries and restaurants have been in this mold — cut into neat squares and utterly unappetizing.
But a good homemade bread pudding is a different beast. This is spoon food, creamy and gooey and served warm from the oven in a bowl. Bread and milk and eggs and sugar combine to form an alchemy — no longer distinct elements but something altogether new and wonderful. Comforting and exciting all at once, bread pudding has the potential to hit exactly the right dessert spot.
Bread puddings can range from the basic bread and butter pudding, also known as “make a dessert from things in your pantry” to the very fancy indeed. This one is somewhere in between. It is an easy bread pudding, make no mistake about that. And most of the ingredients are in my pantry, but the basic sandwich bread and milk and eggs is kicked up a notch — the bread is a brioche (the best bread for bread pudding hands down, if you can find it), spread with a sweet and tart raspberry jam. The custard is thickened with cream and scented with the floral aromas of Tahitian vanilla extract and Amontillado sherry. And to top it off, the pudding is taken from the pedestrian to the porsche with a topping of creamy, dreamy, meringue, browned to perfection.
Most people are intimidated by a meringue, but it’s really not difficult. In other words, it sounds harder than it is. It’s just the whites of the eggs, beaten until stiff and sweetened with a little sugar. There’s no magical chemistry or special technique involved — it’s simple mechanics. If you have some egg whites, sugar, a clean bowl and an electric beater (or a whisk and an untiring arm) you can make a meringue. And browning it, as I did for this recipe, is the work of minutes.
In fact, this whole dessert is incredibly simple. It’s an easy bread pudding — really just throwing bread in a bowl and pouring a liquid over the whole thing, then topping with beaten egg whites. And yet the result is elegant, delicious and worthy of being served by the best home cooks. Or the best school dining halls, if those actually exist.
- 6 ounces brioche
- ½ c raspberry jam
- 2 T sherry
- 1 c milk
- ½ c heavy cream
- 2 eggs
- 2 T sugar
- 1 T vanilla (Tahitian is the best for this)
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 egg whites
- 2 T sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Slice the brioche into rough slices.
- Spread each slice of brioche with jam, layering the brioche as you go into a 2 quart souffle dish. Sprinkle a little of the sherry over each layer of the brioche.
- Mix the milk, cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla, and beat until the egg is thoroughly incorporated.
- Pour the egg mixture over the brioche. Let sit for about 5 minutes so the custard can soak in.
- Bake the bread pudding at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The pudding should be slightly wobbly in the middle.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a shiny cookie sheet, shiny side down, on the top rack of the oven on the highest setting, and the other rack on the lowest setting.
- Beat egg whites and salt until fluffy. Slowly add sugar, and beat until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form.
- Spread meringue over the top of the bread pudding. Use the spoon to make peaks and whorls.
- Place pudding on lowest rack of the oven, beneath the cookie sheet. The shininess will reflect heat onto the top of the meringue, making it brown faster.
- Bake the pudding for about 8 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown. Serve warm.
I’m a big fan of bread puddings. Unfortunately, I’m the only one in my family who is, so I never make it. It’s one of those things that I’m always happy to see on restaurant menus because I know that I’ll get to indulge. This one looks lovely.
Are there any leftovers? Can I come over and eat it all? haha! I love that photo – and the meringue on top looks beautiful!! Great seeing you saturday! xoxo
I love bread pudding.I make southern bread pudding often. I can’t wait to try this recipe.YEAH!!!
Oh heavens, this sounds incredible! I love a good bread pudding but have never found one that convinces my better half to enjoy it. I may have to make a batch of brioche just to give this a try!
Oh my…That looks…*drool*
I’m glad you say that it’s an easy recipe, because when food looks that good I almost get scared of it. Like I’ll never be able to do that myself. But the next bread pudding I make, this one, here I come!
Looks fabulous, Kate. Adding the meringue makes it look super professional and fancy. I’m contemplating making the lemon caramel cake from Tartine for Easter and yes, I am afraid of my kitchen torch.
This looks absolutely amazing!! I’m so glad I got to see you on Saturday and it’s just a few weeks till the bake sale. Woohoo!!
Your bread pudding must be incredible with the brioche! That bread is to die for! Looks delicious.
Oh that looks like a dessert I could really dig into! Looks delicious!
Happy Easter to you Kate. R U going to food blogher this year? We could celebrate out birthdays together!!!
i have been looking for this dessert for years!! i loved it at primary school but could never remember what it was. Going to make it today, wont be sharing it tho!!