Yeah bread pudding! This is becoming one of my favorite desserts. Don’t tell anyone, but “bread pudding” is just another name for “french toast casserole”, which isn’t actually a thing. What I’m saying though, is that this is an easy dessert for anyone who isn’t scared of french toast, but it has the potential to be way classier.
The reason bread pudding ranks so high in my book is because I’m a poor planner when it comes to desserts. I often want dessert, and hardly ever have any lying around (which is probably a good thing). What I often do have lying around are things like bread, milk, eggs, and sugar, which – you guessed it – are the majority of what this dessert is made of. That also means that this is a leftovers-based dessert, and how great is that?
Anything with milk or cream and eggs cooked at a low temperature is probably a custard, so it’s good to have some idea of how to deal with that kind of thing. For creme brulee, scrambled eggs, cheesecake, and of course our custard du jour, bread pudding, the idea is to give it plenty of time at a fairly low temperature to cook. Over that time, the milk and eggs gradually convince themselves to gently solidify into the creamy, mushy delight that we know and love. It’s awesome, and pretty easy to do.
What makes it even easier is doing it all in a slow cooker. Since we’d be putting all this nonsense in an oven around 250°F anyway, this is perfect territory for slow cookers and all their gentle cooking goodness. I first saw this idea on the blog-for-all-things-crockpot, A Year of Slow Cooking. Check out her post about bread pudding in the slow cooker here if you’d like.
As for the syrup, I usually just improvise something based on what we have around and what we’re feeling that evening. The bread we used was a cinnamon-raisin swirl bread, so I thought coffee would go nicely on top. You can try other things like a fruit syrup or caramel or white chocolate, depending on your mood and how fancy you feel like getting. Since we are doing the syrup, the bread pudding itself has a lot less sugar than you’ll see in many other recipes. It’s better not to go overboard on sugar anyway, and this way you can control how much you put on.
Bread Pudding Recipe
1 small loaf of cinnamon raisin bread
1 small loaf of normal bread plus 2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 cup raisins (or to taste)
3-4 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar (feel free to do 1/2 cup)
Espresso Bourbon Sauce Recipe
3/4 cup ridiculously strong coffee
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons bourbon
Cut your bread into 1 inch cubes. Toss them into a medium-sized slow cooker (with raisins, if using).
Beat the eggs and mix with the milk and vanilla (and cinnamon, if using). Pour over bread cubes.
Cook on high for 2-3 hours, or on low for 3-4. The bread pudding is done when it’s browned and dried on top but still squishy and springy.
Once it’s done, take the ceramic cooking vessel out of your slow cooker and put it under the broiler for a few minutes. Alternatively, if you happen to have a plumber’s welding torch for your cooking like I do (because why wouldn’t you?), flame the top of the pudding gently until browned in spots.
For the syrup: Mix the coffee and sugar over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup comes to a gentle boil. Simmer for several minutes to combine, and remove from heat. Add the vanilla and bourbon and mix.
Serve in small portions with the syrup on the side. Enjoy!
What’s your favorite version of bread pudding?
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