A couple years ago I took a cooking class with a Creole chef in Virginia. He was a big dude, as any true food lover would be, and incredibly warm and funny.
As the small group of us gathered around our cooking stations, he said “All you ever really need to know about bread pudding is this: cream plus eggs plus bread equals bread pudding. Stop getting caught up in the details, once you have the base right, that’s all you need to know.”
He was right. Get the base and you can add any flavorings you like- sweet or savory. For this version of his recipe, I used white chocolate and raisins. Previously I had used dried cranberries or cherries instead, but the raisins were a special request!
This bread pudding is my favorite because it is not soggy and it isn’t super sweet like a cinnamon bun gone wrong. The reason for this is using fresh french bread. The eggs and cream still make the pudding rich and puffy, but the heartiness of the french bread’s crust keeps the overall dish from turning into a soggy limp noodle.
The white chocolate morsels melt into the body of the pudding and coupled with the raisins, each bite is punctuated with a simple silky sweetness. Yum.
Serve with ice cream, may I recommend cinnamon, and a simple caramel-esque sauce (don’t skip this!!). Eating a warm bowl of pudding next to the fireplace while watching a movie is a must-do this winter!
White Chocolate Bread Pudding
- two loaves French bread*
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 9 eggs
- 1 generous tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 generous cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup white chocolate morsels
- 1 cup raisins
For the sauce**:
- heavy cream
- brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a 9×13 pan on the bottom and up the sides. Slice the bread and then cut each slice into quarters. Toss into the pan. In a really large bowl, combine the cream, eggs, vanilla, spices and sugar, chocolate and raisins and mix well. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes in the pan and press down with your hands so the mixture is soaked through the bread. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. I find it usually takes an hour. The pudding will be puffed up and mostly set, and jiggle slightly in the center when finished. Remove from oven and let stand before serving.
To prepare the sauce, I really just eyeballed it- looking for texture and consistency. Start with 1/2 cup of brown sugar in a pan and add in vanilla and some cream (less cream than sugar). Stir to combine and cook over medium high heat until the sugar is well dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken and bubble.
Stir often and don’t walk away. Add more sugar to thicken or cream to thin. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon over individual bread pudding servings.
*Note: You do not need stale bread to make bread pudding. This recipe uses fresh French bread. Oh ya, if you didn’t pick up on it, the base for this recipe is 2 loaves bread, 1 quart cream, 9 eggs. That will get you anywhere!
**Note: The pudding itself is not very sweet, I really recommend using the sauce for some added sweetness and gooeyness. It is the perfect compliment to the bread pudding and I wouldn’t serve without it!