At our September meeting, the subject of bread pudding came up since the pudding cake I chose to make for the September theme, was more like a bread pudding than a lava/pudding cake. Tonya mentioned that she had never had bread pudding before - and so the rest of us decided that our next theme had to be bread pudding - so that she could finally have a taste of one of my most favorite desserts! I can pretty much always be convinced to get dessert when eating out at restaurant, if bread pudding is on the menu. It's such a delicious comfort food and a great way to use up any kind of bread you have left over.
I've made bread pudding with French bread, challah, Irish soda bread...even Krispy Kremes! So if you ever have any leftover bread - don't throw it away - just put it into your freezer and pull it out for the next time you want to serve a crowd - for either dessert or brunch! Bread pudding makes for an excellent breakfast! (Think of it as a fancy baked french toast.) So when you've got enough bread on hand, all you need is some milk or cream, eggs and vanilla to whip up a delicious batch of bread pudding! There's even a simple ratio to keep in mind when putting together the egg custard in which the bread cubes are soaked: two parts milk to one part egg, plus sugar, vanilla and salt. So for a regular 1-lb loaf of bread, you'll need 2 cups of milk, 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp of salt. From there, the variations are endless - you can add additional ingredients like nuts, chocolate or fresh or dried fruit!
Note: Regarding the ratio above, remember that you have to use the same units of measure for your ingredients. Two cups of milk to one egg is not the proper ratio (an egg isn't an equal unit of measure for milk). Instead, you'd have to measure your eggs by weight or volume to get the proper ratio. For standard large eggs, 1 egg = 2 ounces. So for this ratio, 2 cups of milk (16oz) and 4 eggs (8oz) fits the 2:1 ratio.
The Baking Club had a wide range of breads and flavors added to our bread puddings - some came with sauces, some were served plain. All were delicious!
I had just returned from vacation in Montreal & Quebec - so had maple on the mind when I picked this recipe. Maple can be an overwhelming flavor - but I liked how it wasn't overpowering in this dish. I decided to pair this bread pudding with a classic creme anglaise - a cooked custard sauce that is so delicious, I could (and would) just eat it with a spoon! I chose to use Julia Child's recipe - and it produced a deliciously smooth and creamy sauce that is perfectly mopped up with a bite of this bread pudding.
Gina made two different variations on the bread pudding theme. The first was a classic bread pudding with good quality challah and a simple, but rich, egg custard. With no additional flavors or ingredients - this recipe lets the simple flavors of the pudding shine. What was unique about this recipe, is that you reserve some of your toasted bread cubes and sprinkle them on top of the soaked pieces, and brush them with melted butter. This helps crisp up those pieces, so you get a nice contrast in texture. So so good. This was one of my favorites and a recipe I'll definitely make on my own!
Her other recipe used croissants (yum!) and chocolate (more yum!). The egg custard is mixed with melted chocolate to make a chocolate custard and then additional chocolate pieces are mixed in along with the croissant cubes. We all liked it, but felt that the custard itself didn't taste chocolatey enough. I think you could try melting the full amount of chocolate in the recipe and add to the custard and then still add the called-for-amount of chocolate. Or, you could also omit the melted chocolate from the custard and just let the chocolate pieces be the sole source of your chocolate flavors.
Last, but definitely not least, Klare made a pecan and butterscotch bread pudding. The original recipe calls for bourbon in the butterscotch sauce, but she omitted it, as none of us in the club are big fans of liquor in our desserts (call us crazy). For the bread, Klare used Parkerhouse rolls from a local bakery, since that's what she had on hand - and they worked perfectly in this recipe. As far as bread puddings go, this is a pretty standard recipe - but what makes this stand out are the addition of pecans (my favorite nut) and a delicious butterscotch caramel sauce. Perfection!