Bread puddings are one of those dishes that can be incredible versatile. Like a basic muffin recipe where you can incorporate all different kinds of fruits, nuts and other goodies to change the flavor completely, you can do the same thing with a bread pudding. A basic bread pudding gives you a rich, custardy base for both sweet and savory dishes – and this Fig and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding happens to have both sweet and savory in one dish.
Figs and goat cheese are a great combination any time they meet. I used dried figs in this recipe, which have a rich and intense sweetness to them. Mine were very moist, but you can rehydrate dried figs in a bit of hot water if yours are on the dry side. You can also use fresh figs in this recipe if you have them. The sweetness of the figs contrasts very well with the goat cheese, which has a rich, tangy cream cheese-like flavor with a slightly savory/salty finish to it. The cheese incorporates easily into the bread pudding, but holds its shape and doesn’t melt, so you get pockets of sweet fig and savory cheese in different bites as you eat. The custard for the bread pudding is made with buttermilk, milk and a little vanilla extract.
This bread pudding sounds very grown up, and while it will certainly appeal to adults looking for something a little different, it has a beautifully balanced flavor that almost anyone will enjoy. The dish is fantastic for breakfast or brunch, but also works very well when served for dessert. Serve it plain or dust it with a little bit of confectioners’ sugar to highlight the sweetness of the figs and the vanilla in the custard. It is good both warm and cold (and leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days).
Fig and Goat Cheese Bread Pudding
6 cups cubed white or challah bread
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk (any kind)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-oz goat cheese, coarsely chopped or crumbled
1 cup dried figs, coarsely chopped*
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking dish.
Place bread cubes in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until well combined. Whisk in milk, buttermilk and vanilla until mixture is smooth. Pour over bread mixture. Add in goat cheese and dried figs, then fold everything together gently with a spatula to evenly distribute cheese and figs. Let stand for 3-5 minutes. Stir once more to ensure bread is well-moistened. Pour into prepared baking dish.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until pudding is set and a sharp knife inserted into the custard comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
*Fresh, ripe figs may be coarsely chopped and substituted for dried figs.