One of my favorite lemon desserts is lemon curd. It may not seem like much of a dessert on its own, as it is usually paired with scones and crumpets for brunch, but it actually easily brings some fantastic lemon flavor into desserts like Lemon Curd Ice Cream and this Lemon Curd Bread Pudding. Perhaps I should say that it is a good dessert ingredient, rather than labeling it a dessert in its own right, but since I have been known to eat it with a spoon, I’m going to stand my my categorization of it as a dessert in and of itself – as well as a dessert ingredient.
This wonderful Lemon Curd Bread pudding starts with a generous portion of lemon curd. You can use homemade lemon curd or buy some that is already made, so long as it is a good quality curd that has a strong lemon flavor. Unlike lemon juice, which would curdle the milk that makes up the base of the bread pudding, lemon curd adds a rich, velvety texture, along with plenty of lemon flavor. They combine with eggs, sugar, lemon zest and bread cubes, then everything is baked until just set.
The finished pudding has a great texture, soft and moist without being so wet that it seems undercooked (a common problem with bread puddings). You can check for doneness by inserting the tip of a sharp knife into the center of the pudding to see if it comes out clean, but you can also judge pretty accurately simply by looking to see if the top of the pudding appears to be at all wet (if so, it isn’t done) or if it seems to be full set. Allow the pudding to cool completely before serving it up. I prefer to slice it into neat squares, but it can also be scooped out using a spoon if you like to keep your bread pudding service on the casual side. You should get about 9 servings out of a batch. If your guests are huge lemon-lovers, however, you might not get quite that many!
You’ll notice that there is a little bit of sauce on top of my bread pudding. I made that by whisking together some leftover lemon curd and a very small quantity of heavy cream, which gave it a thinner consistency and allowed me to drizzle it on. Lemon curd is typically very thick – too thick to drizzle onto a dessert – so it is necessary to thin it down slightly to turn it into a sauce. While the pudding is very lemony on its own, a touch of additional lemon curd makes it even more delicious.
Lemon Curd Bread Pudding
5-6 cups cubed bread (preferably challah, brioche or a white bread) about 1/2 large loaf
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup lemon curd
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar, 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 large measuring cup or mixing bowl, whisk together milk, lemon curd, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and salt until well-combined and smooth. Pour over the bread cubes, turning the bread with a spatula to ensure that all pieces of bread are soaked in the lemon mixture. Allow mixture to stand for about 10 minutes.
Pour bread cube mixture into prepared baking dish and spread gently into an even layer. Sprinkle sugar 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.