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Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

Bread and custard have been around since ancient times and we’ll never know who first put the two together. The basic form of the dish that we know today—dry bread mixed with egg and dairy and baked until set—has been around at least since Medieval times. Like most dishes using dry bread, bread pudding probably started as a technique for frugally using up bread that had gone stale rather than throwing it away.

The character of any bread pudding derives largely from the bread that is used. For our basic, all-around bread pudding recipe, we chose challah bread. Made with more eggs than most other breads, challah already has a rich flavor and smooth texture that makes an excellent base for bread pudding. If you can’t find challah in your local supermarket or bakery, you can substitute any high-quality bread. Feel free, as well, to experiment with different kinds of breads, including croissants, brioche, banana bread, or even—if you are feeling especially decadent—cake. Whatever bread you choose, be sure that it is well dried-out, otherwise it won’t fully absorb the custard.

The other key ingredient in a bread pudding is, of course, the eggs. Egg whites have a sulfur compound in them that gives eggs their characteristic eggy flavor. In desserts where eggs play only a supporting role, that eggy taste is often so diluted that it can’t be tasted. In bread pudding, however, eggs play a starring role and that eggy taste can distract from an otherwise delectable dessert. To keep that from happening, we stick to only the egg yolks. Separating the egg yolks can take some extra time but the end result is distraction-free enjoyment.

Serve as-is or with a dollop of whipped cream. Or, look through the variations below for some fantastic sauces to serve with this delicious bread pudding.

Yield

Serves 8 to 10.

Time to Make

At least 2 hours, 30 minutes
and up to 2 hours, 45 minutes

Shopping List

  • 1 loaf challah bread or country bread
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 5¼ ounces granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ ounce table salt
  • 1¼ pints heavy cream
  • 1¼ pints whole milk
  • 1½ ounces brown sugar

Equipment List

  • 2 rimmed baking sheets
  • 13″ by 9″ baking pan
  • instant read thermometer
  • wire rack

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  • 1 loaf (14 ounces) challah bread or country bread
  •  
  • 2 rimmed baking sheets

Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and preheat to 325 degrees. Cut the bread into ¾-inch cubes and spread in a single layer over two rimmed baking sheets. Bake, tossing occasionally, until the cubes are just dry, about 15 minutes. Set the bread cubes aside and let cool. Leave the oven on at 325 degrees.


  • 9 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • 2½ cups heavy cream
  • 2½ cups whole milk
  •  
  • 13″ by 9″ baking pan

Whisk yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl. Add the cream and the milk and whisk until combined. Add the cooled bread cubes to the mixture and toss until the cubes are thoroughly coated. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and let stand for 30 minutes, pressing occasionally to ensure that every piece of bread is completely saturated.


  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  •  
  • instant read thermometer
  • wire rack

Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top of the dish. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until the center is just set, about 45 to 50 minutes. There should be no liquid under the surface and an instant read thermometer inserted into the middle should register 170 degrees. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until just above room temperature, about 45 minutes.