I really like that flavor and the texture of my cream cheese bread pudding, as it’s slightly firmer than many bread puddings and has a hint of cheesecakiness to it. It’s almost like having two desserts in one. I decided to take advantage of the cheesecake angle of the dessert and play with the flavors in the dish a little bit. Strawberries, for instance, are a popular topping for cheesecake, so they seemed like they would be a good match in the dish in terms of flavor. Bread pudding is a dish that can handle a lot of extra moisture, too, so even though fresh strawberries can become slightly watery during baking in some dishes, it didn’t seem like it would present any problem with the bread base of this dish.
In the finished dish, both the strawberries and the bread pudding both held up beautifully in this recipe, resulting in a dessert that tasted like a rich, moist strawberry shortcake with a hint of strawberry cheesecake to it. It definitely showcases the strawberries against the milder vanilla and cream flavors in the background. I used fresh strawberries to make this bread pudding, but frozen strawberries can also be used. If possible, I would let the frozen berries thaw for a little while to allow some of the liquid to drain off of them and to make them easier to slice. Large, whole frozen berries are a bit too large for this recipe and could make the bread pudding a little bit mushy.
Serve this bread pudding with a little bit of whipped cream. It can be served while it is still warm from the oven (it should cool for a little while before serving, however), but it also tastes great when chilled, so it can easily be made in advance. The bread pudding should keep, covered, in the fridge for about 3-4 days.
Strawberry Bread Pudding
8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
10-11 cups white bread, cubed
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, mixing at medium speed until very smooth, then slowly blend in milk and vanilla extract. Dump all bread cubes and strawberries into the bowl and turn gently with a spatula to allow the bread to soak up the liquid. Pour into prepared pan and gently smooth into an even layer. If strawberries come out in a bunch, you can simply relocate them by pressing them into other areas of the pudding.
Bake for 30 minutes, until pudding springs back slightly when you touch the top and the edges begin to turn golden.
Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.