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Restaurant Style Bread Pudding

Most home cooks will make bread pudding in some variety of casserole dish, producing a relatively flat, custardy dish that must be scooped onto plates. In a restaurant setting, the presentation of an unformed blob on a plate is somewhat less than appetising. Consequently, restaurants will often bake bread pudding in a loaf pan, so it can be easily and attrictively plated. I first heard this in class when we were working on custard based desserts, and it definately makes sense to me. No one wants to pay for unattractive food. If it tastes good, people will consider it. But they’ll be bitter.

So, I baked this loaf-style bread pudding for Mother’s Day because my mom loves custardy desserts. I used challah and slightly lightened the original recipe, which used heavy cream and whole milk while I used half-and-half (half cream, half milk) and low fat milk. Bread pudding is a great way to use up bread that is getting stale. Or cream that you have lying around.

This recipe makes a dense and custardy pudding that is just sweet enough. It’s not too heavy because the eggs provide just enough lightness. Use enough bread to completely fill your loaf pan. You can use any type of dried fruit. I think that dried cherries pair really well with vanilla and I added some currants for variety. If you’re going to soak your fruit in brandy, as I did, as little as 30 minutes will work.

Restaurant Style Bread Pudding

1/2 loaf challah, cut or crumbled into 1-2 inch cubes
1 cup milk
2 cups cream or half and half
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup dried cherries (or currants or raisins), soaked in 1/2 cup brandy
1-2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan well, but do not flour it.
In a large bowl, beat together milk, cream, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, zest and vanilla. Add bread and press it down to absorb all the custard. Stir in cherries.
Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle top of loaf with 1-2 tbsp sugar.
Bake 50-55 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean and the top is golden brown.
Allow to cool in pan and then transfer to a plate for serving.
It is best slightly warmed, but should be stored in the refrigerator.
Serves 8-10

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  • dksbook
    May 9, 2005

    Nicole – great recipe! I tried it today with lemon peel, a tiny drop of lemon oil, and dried blueberries I had on hand which I soaked only in warm water. I reduced the vanilla a bit, and used sparkling white sugar on top. In many of my bread pudding adventures, I have baked the pan in a water bath, and I did it with this one, too, but at the same oven temp. What do you think would happen if the oven temp were lower than 375? I frequently do bread pudding in a loaf or a round cake pan. If I use the cake pan, I slice it like a cake to present. Richard Sax has a killer caramel bread pudding recipe in his book Home Desserts, which is my spouse’s very favorite thing to put in his mouth. But tonight, he gets your’s, slightly modified. Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Ana
    May 9, 2005

    Nic – fantastic recipe. I have some cinnamon raisin bread that is just begging to become a pudding. I’ll let you know how will it go.

    Did not know about cooking in the loaf pan but it does make sense and it does make a very classy presentation.

  • Nic
    May 9, 2005

    Ana – I think that this will be great with cinnamon raisin bread. Of course, I love anything with cinnamon. Enjoy!

  • Jessica
    May 11, 2005

    Ha, I never thought about making it in a loaf pan! I love bread pudding. I’m convinced that it’s a chunky version of French toast. Speaking of which, I made grilled French toast the other day. I took some challah, soaked it in a mixture of egg, milk, molasses and brown sugar (just eyeballed the measurements) and stuffed the middle with apples. Then I put it on the George Foreman grill so it was part panini, part French toast. Delicious!

  • Nic
    May 12, 2005

    Jessica – Great idea to use the George Foreman. I imagine that you could grill up slices of bread pudding, which would be a great way to serve this in summer, topped with some fresh berries.

  • Carmen
    May 21, 2008

    Yum, I just tried this last night and it was easy and delicious.

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