The South, and New Orleans in particular, are famous for their bread puddings. Truth be told, I always thought that bread pudding originated in the Southern part of the United States, but in fact, it did not. Though bread pudding has become a staple dessert in both New Orleans and the whole South, it is has actually been a popular and beloved dessert eaten all over the world for centuries. Some form of bread pudding actually goes back as early as the 11th century. For the longest time, it was known as “a poor man’s dessert”, since it is made from stale bread, milk or cream and eggs. However today, it is a trendy dessert found in some of the most upscale restaurants all around. Some of the different names it goes by are pudin or budin; capriotata in Mexico; and a Nelson cake or Wet Nelly, in the UK. It can be made either sweet or savory (stuffing is a savory bread pudding), and you can use any type of bread you like. The possibilities of making bread pudding are endless. You can add whatever you like to the filling, and different countries all add their own specific personality and unique ingredients to their mixture. The most important ingredients in any bread pudding, whether sweet or savory, are stale bread, eggs and either milk or cream. It is important to use stale bread rather than fresh, so the bread can really soak up and absorb the liquid ingredients and the flavors being used. According to “The Bread Pudding Queen”, Portia Little, (nope, I am not the queen of bread pudding – surprise, surprise) it is really important to measure your bread cubes loosely rather than measuring them specifically with a measuring cup, to help keep the bread pliable and more able to soak up the liquids. Ms. Little is known as the Queen of Bread Pudding because she has over 1,000 recipes just for bread pudding, and is still adding to her collection.
I love bread pudding; always have. But I really made it because I had some bread that needed to be used before going bad, and I just though making bread pudding would be a delicious use of that bread. I also added some apples cooked with a little sugar, butter and cinnamon. I had no idea that by adding the apples and cinnamon I was making my bread pudding in the traditional Belgian way. I only learned that through doing my research. It just goes to show, you can learn something new everyday, and even those of us in the know, still have a lot to learn.
All you need to make bread pudding is just a few simple, everyday ingredients. I used bread rolls, but any kind of bread will work just fine.
After peeling and dicing my apples, I cooked them in butter, with sugar and cinnamon until they were soft and tender, about 10 minutes.
After the apples were cooked, I added them to my bread cubes and tossed everything together well.
I whisked eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla together to make my liquid and poured it all into the bread and apple mixture. Really press the bread into the liquid to make sure it absorbs it all and soaks it all up. Then pour into a baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Press again to make sure all the liquid is absorbed into the bread cubes.
Once all the ingredients are in the baking pan, and firmly pressed together, cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350* F for about 1 hour or until the top has formed a light crust and the liquid has evaporated and cooked into the pudding.
I always serve my bread pudding with a sauce, and usually it is a rum-caramel sauce. Bread pudding is always best when served warm with a helping of sauce and whipped cream on top. My sauce was made from butter, heavy whipping cream, sugar and rum. I used Captain Morgan’s, but you can use whatever you like. Rum, or other alcohol is optional, but I find it really makes for a rich and decadent sauce.
Your sauce is ready when it is a light caramel color and is thick and syrupy. Once it starts to caramelize, it will burn very quickly if you are not careful.
From left over, stale bread to a rich and decadent dessert. YUMMY! Laizzez le bontemps roulez!
Jeanne’s Apple Bread Pudding with Rum-Caramel Sauce
4 or so cups stale bread, cubed and loosely measured
2-3 medium apples, peeled and diced
1 cup sugar + 2 TBSP for the apples
1-1/2 cups of milk or cream
1-2 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP cinnamon
2-3 TBSP butter
Preheat oven to 350*F
Spray your baking pan with cooking spray.
Cut the bread into cubes about 1-1 1/2 ” in size and set aside.
Dice the apples and cook with the cinnamon, 2 TBSP of sugar, cinnamon and butter until the apples are soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Once the apples are cooked, add them to the bread cubes and mix well.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and the rest of the sugar and pour over the bread and apple mixture. Combine thoroughly and make sure the bread soaks up all the liquid, by pressing it all together. Pour into the prepared baking pan and really firmly press the bread mixture into the pan again to make sure all the liquid is absorbed. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour or until a light crust has formed on the top and all the liquid is gone. Do not over cook or the pudding will be dry and tough. You want it to still be moist in the middle.
1 stick of butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/2-2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup of rum, or whiskey of your choice – optional
Cook the butter, sugar and cream in a sauce pan until the butter is melted and the sugar is completely dissolved into the cream. Stir constantly in a figure 8 motion until the sauce is thick and a light caramel color. This could take awhile. So, be patient. It is well worth the wait. Add the rum or alcohol, if using, and mix well. Once the sauce is done, add to the warmed bread pudding and top with whipped cream. Enjoy this decadently delicious dessert, one slow, delicious bite at a time.
*** This is a recipe that calls for you to be creative and to add whatever you like in your filling. Have fun. Experiment. There is no wright or wrong way to make a good bread pudding, unless you over cook it.