Bread pudding, in a way, is essentially the dessert counterpart to French toast. They’re served at opposite ends of the day (that is, unless, you’re a breakfast-for-dinner kind of person, in which case, all bets are off) but they’re united in the sense that they’re both creative and sweet ways to use up leftover bread that’s perfectly edible, if given a little love and some butter, milk, and eggs.
And while there’s nothing wrong with everyone’s favorite, chocolate bread pudding, one would be remiss to overlook some of the more creative variations, like this one made from zucchini, or an irresistible caramel apple bread pudding, or even one laced with Grand Marnier. Bread pudding isn’t even just for dessert — you can often find savory bread puddings paired with hearty meat dishes.
So how do you go about concocting this grand dish? Usually, you’ll want to start with some day-old French bread or a baguette that's past its prime. Brioche is even better. Tear it up into cubes and put them in a baking dish (feel free to butter them up first if you want a really decadent dessert). Pour a mixture of mostly milk and cream, some sugar, and a few eggs and let them soak for a little while. Add some spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, ground clove, or perhaps throw in a dash of vanilla extract, if you wish. Pop it in the oven until the top edges are slightly toasted or a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. That’s it! Don’t overthink it! (Photo courtesy of Ellen Silverman)
So what to make of bread pudding? It’s a dessert that looks and tastes like it took a lot of work to prepare, but it’s a useful crutch for, shall we say, some of the more laissez-faire cooks among us. Don’t worry — we won’t let anybody in on your secret.