Though it has humble origins as a frugal recipe intended to make use of stale, leftover bread, bread pudding has become one of our favorite desserts. Loaded with delicious ingredients like chewy day-old bread, syrupy brown sugar, and fragrant vanilla, it’s no wonder this custard-soaked bread dish is a contemporary comfort-food classic. You only need a handful of ingredients to make a basic bread pudding but can add just about anything, from caramel to marshmallows, if you want to make this already crave-worthy dish even more irresistible.
Making bread pudding from scratch is easy; simply tear a loaf of stale bread into small pieces (you can also cut the bread into cubes, but the irregular pieces produced by tearing give the bread pudding a nice, rustic feel), layer it in a baking dish with any desired add-ins, and then pour flavored custard into the dish, allowing the bread to soak up the liquids. The casserole is then baked in the oven until the eggs are cooked through and any exposed bits of bread are toasty and brown.
One of the things that makes this simple recipe so appealing is its versatility; virtually any variation you can imagine will produce a wonderfully delicious dessert. You can use leftover croissants, doughnuts, or muffins instead of stale bread; you can add booze-soaked fruit, fresh berries, or chocolate chips; and you can flavor the custard with anything from citrus zest to rum. You can even make a savory bread pudding, using ingredients like pieces of smoky meat, cheese, and fresh or dried herbs.
Whether you’re looking for a baked dessert recipe to serve when it’s cold out or a decadent dish for a special holiday breakfast, there’s guaranteed to be a bread pudding recipe for you. The possibilities are near endless, but if you’re not quite ready to experiment yourself, we’ve got eight sweet and indulgent twists for you to try.
Caramel Apple Bread Pudding
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.