Some people are crazy about creme caramel, or chocolate cake, but for me bread pudding is my go to dessert. No matter where I go, I have to try it. Of course, New Orleans is the mecca for bread pudding with hard sauce, but I can’t get there as often as I like. But making bread pudding at home is a snap. And it’s a lovely warm dish to assmeble if you have out of town guests popping by during the holidays. Easy and impressive.
Use the Best Bread for Excellent Bread Pudding
After Thanksgiving, I had a mountain of home made dinner rolls which made an amazing bread pudding. The outer crusts were firm and golden, and they had gotten nice and stale, perfect for bread pudding. Fresh fluffy bread is nice for eating at the table, but makes a very pasty bread pudding. You want firm, stale bread, and of artisan quality. Supermarket bread, or commercial sandwich bread from a plastic bag will dissappoint. Look for a dense bread such as an artisanal white bread or French bread. Challah and brioche are also a good choices, but I would steer away from ciabatta, multigrain, pumpernickle or rye loaves. Leftover garlic bread is a firm no.
Be Creative with Bread Pudding
Think of bread pudding as your artists canvas. Once you have good bread, eggs and milk, the other ingredients are interchangeable. You could use dried blueberries, cherries, apricots or figs instead of dried cranberries. Try toasted pecans or macadamia nuts instead of walnuts. Substitute brown sugar for the maple syrup and add more cinnamon for a dessert more similar to a cinnamon roll. If you don’t usually bake but want to be creative, maybe bread pudding should be your go to dessert also. Experiment with making individual bread puddings in smaller ramekins.
The roomie and I ate this entire batch by ourselves.Print
Cranberry Maple Bread Pudding with Walnuts & Browned Butter Hard Sauce
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 50 min
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 10 servings 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Continental
12 oz dense bread or dinner rolls, cut into 1” cubes (340gr)
½ cup dried cranberries (60gr)
½ cup chopped walnuts (62gr)
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups milk (1360ml)
1 cup real maple syrup (240 ml)
½ tsp. cinnamon (2gr)
1 tsp. vanilla (5ml)
1 stick butter (4oz/115gr)
½ cup real maple syrup
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup heavy cream*
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (15ml)
2 tbsp. bourbon or rum – (30ml) optional
Place half of the cubed bread in an oven proof 2qt (2lt) baking dish. Over the bread cubes, sprinkle over half of the cranberries, and then half of the walnuts. Add the remaining bread cubes on top, and then top with the remaining cranberries and walnuts.
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Add the milk, syrup, cinnamon and vanilla, and continue to beat until the mixture is well combined. Pour over the bread in the baking dish. Allow the dish to rest for 20-60 minutes, so that the bread can absorb the mixture. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F (176°C).
Bake the bread pudding for 40-45 minutes. While it cools, you can make the hard sauce.
To make hard sauce, heat the butter in a small skillet, stirring gently until it begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the maple syrup, brown sugar, heavy cream, vanilla and bourbon, and remove from heat. Serve warm with the bread pudding.
*Quite often at the ranch, I run out of an ingredient and have to substitute. In this recipe, I had success using whole milk when I ran out of heavy cream for the hard sauce. However, when using milk instead of cream, whisk in a tablespoonfull of powdered sugar to thicken the sauce. This step isn’t necessary when sticking to the original recipe.