Bread Pudding Bliss

Recently I was a passenger in the car with my friend Terry and we chatted about food. Right off the bat, she rattled off a recipe for bread pudding which I wrote down. The simple dessert sounded delicious with a comfort food feel. Thanksgiving was fast approaching and I wanted to bring a dessert but this wasn’t fancy enough. How could I fix it up to make it suitable for a celebration?

A few days later I visited my friend Ellie and the topic of Thanksgiving came up. I told her that I planned to make bread pudding. Without missing a beat she said “I have a recipe for an Irish Whiskey sauce that would be lovely on that”. What on earth prompted her to answer an unasked question? I absolutely love it when my problems get solved without any effort from me – it’s like magic!! Abracadabra! Poof!! That certainly makes life easy, doesn’t it? Now my humble dessert could get dressed up and attend a special occasion dinner. Another unasked question that Ellie answered was “What kind of bread do I use”? She just happened to blurt out that French bread was the best kind, even though the recipe is known to work with any kind of leftover bread, particularly artisanal breads.

Bread Pudding

4 – 6 cups semi-dry bread, shredded
2 cups milk
1 cube butter
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 tbsp cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Dried fruit: raisins, figs, dates, cherries, etc.

Preheat the oven to 350⁰. Grease a baking dish and use it to mix the bread and the dried fruit. In a saucepan, scald the milk then add the butter. Let it melt then whisk in the sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread. Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes until the bread looks crunchy, the custard bubbles away on the edges, and the kitchen fills with an intoxicating aroma. Eat it right away because the top gets soggy the longer it sits.

Irish Whiskey Sauce

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup sugar
7 egg yolks
¼ cup Irish Whiskey (bourbon or rum will work too)

Boil the cream and milk in a double boiler, lower the heat to simmer, combine the sugar and egg yolks and gradually whisk in. Add the whiskey and stir constantly for 8-10 minutes. Recipe is from “The Southern Foodie”.

This dessert is a delightful combination of textures: a crisp, crunchy crust, a spongy custard-soaked interior, and a velvety sauce. Next time I’m going to add bacon and eat it for breakfast. And maybe lunch and dinner too. This makes my mouth water just writing about it!