Perfect Bread Pudding

Use the softest bread you can find– no need for stale bread in this particular recipe. I used Wonder Bread– a real rags-to-riches type story for the bread, at least.

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
  • 1 tbs. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs. brandy, bourbon, rum, etc (optional)
  • 1 loaf of the softest bread you can find.

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. brandy or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract.
  • You can use your best pasta machine to prepare the sauce.

Instructions

Heat your oven to 350. Put the softened butter in a large bowl. If your butter came wrapped in that wax paper, rub them butter side down all over the inside of a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish– it’s the easiest way to butter something if your recipe calls for a whole stick of two of butter. Set the dish off to the side. Cream the butter and the sugar– I use my stand mixer, but you can use a hand held mixer or a spoon– this all depends on how soft the butter is. Mix it until it is well combined– no need to make it fluffy in this recipe. Add in the regular milk– it may splatter, so be mindful. The butter may clump as well once it touches the cold milk– I have experimented by warming the milk so the butter melts into it.

The end result was exactly the same whether the butter was melted into the milk or not– if clumps there be, it’s important that it’s in small clumps so it evenly distributes. It’s your kitchen and you can heat the milk before pouring it in if the sight of small slumps of butter bothers you. Add the remaining ingredients except for the bread and sauce stuff and stir to combine. Tear the loaf of bread into pieces in another large bowl– about 2/3 of the loaf should be in small pieces and the remaining in chunks. The bread is soft and I actually find tearing it up a pretty fun activity.

Pour all the wet mixture over the bread chunks and stir to combine. Pour all of that into your buttered casserole and bake for an hour. After an hour has passed, remove the casserole dish from the oven. Use an oven-mitted hand to hold the dish in place while you stir the pudding with your other hand. Be sure to grab up all the crusty bits from the bottom and sides and incorporate. Once you’re all mixed, put it back in the oven for another hour. Now would be a good time to leave out a stick of butter to soften for the buttery sauce you’ll top the pudding with. Once the final hour has passed, the pudding should be a deep caramel color and crisp on top. Remove to a cooling rack while you make the buttery sauce.

Combined the softened stick of butter, powdered sugar, and extracts in a bowl and whisk to combine– starting slow so the powdered sugar doesn’t explode. I use a stand mixer to whisk it so it gets extra fluffy. You can either spread this sauce oven the whole bread pudding now and let it melt into the crevices or you can cut a slice and top it with a dollop of the sauce and let it melt on the plate, though I let it cool off for about twenty minutes before serving it and it may not have enough residual heat at that point to effectively melt the butter in the sauce. This bread pudding is exquisite cold, as well. If you intend to serve it cold from the get go, I would nix the buttery sauce and merely pour over a few drizzles of cream. It’s a decadent dish either way and definitely not an everyday dessert. This one tray can serve about 12 in smallish slices.Join the discussion and see more photos from this recipe!