A basic bread pudding is like a blank canvas because you can put so many different flavors into one basic recipe. You can stir in chocolate, fruit or nuts to a simple vanilla bread pudding, or you could take things a step further and infuse the whole pudding with more intense flavors. This is a Coffee Bread Pudding, and it is definitely a recipe for coffee lovers. Coffee and cinnamon flavor the custard that gives this bread pudding a delicious coffee n’ cream flavor that any coffee fan is sure to enjoy.
The coffee flavor in this bread pudding comes from instant espresso powder (something like Starbucks Via works equally well) because it allows you to easily introduce an intense coffee flavor to the pudding. Even strong coffee would water down the custard that is the base of this pudding, and you want bread pudding to be rich and creamy, so it is best to stick with as much milk/dairy (as opposed to water) as possible. Instant espresso powder is also very easy to work with, and since it dissolves very easily in warm milk, you will be able to put this recipe together easily and won’t have to wait too long to taste the results.
When the bread pudding is still warm from the oven, it will be moist and custardy – as bread pudding should be. It isn’t as “wet” as some bread pudding recipes, which makes it easy to slice and serve without making a mess. It is excellent when served plain, since you get a good coffee flavor and a slight crunch from the cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top of the pudding before baking, but the recipe makes a generous batch and you will probably have leftovers. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator and this can cause the pudding to firm up quite a bit, so you will probably want to warm it up and serve it with a little sauce. Vanilla custard sauce is an excellent option that goes perfect with the coffee flavor, but if you want something cold to contrast with the warm pudding, vanilla or Coffee Ice Cream are good choices, too.
Coffee Bread Pudding
5-6 cups cubed bread (preferably challah or brioche), about 1/2 large loaf
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar, for topping
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch baking pan.
Place bread cubes in a very large mixing bowl.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, heat up 1/2 cup of the milk. Dissolve instant espresso powder in the milk and allow mixture to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the milk, the coffee-infused milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until ingredients are very well combined.
Pour the coffee mixture over the top of the bread cubes. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to gently press the bread down into the custard, making sure that each piece of bread gets a chance to soak up the milk mixture. Allow bread to stand for 10-15 minutes.
Pour bread cube mixture into prepared baking dish and spread gently into an even layer. In a small bowl, stir together 1 tbsp sugar and 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the bread pudding.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the pudding is set and a sharp knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean.
Let the pudding cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. It can be served warm or cold.