While bread pudding was originally developed to make use of stale bread (Cajuns' don't waste anything), it has evolved into its own creamy, crunchy, delicious dessert and is now a much-loved Southern tradition--especially to Cajun and Creole people.
Our family thinks this is a step or two above other bread puddings, but any Cajun will tell you that the best bread pudding is the one their family makes, and I suppose we are all right.
The ingredient list is long as it uses several spices, but this is a simple recipe to make.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, then drizzle whiskey sauce over pudding and cream.
Yield: Serves 8
- BREAD PUDDING
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- 1 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled
- 3 cups whole milk
- 8 ounces stale bread, cut into small cubes
- WHISKEY VANILLA SAUCE*
- 3 cups sugar
- 3 cups cream
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons butter, additional
- 1/3 cup whiskey
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with the 1 tablespoon butter.
Toast the pecans in a dry frying pan over medium heat for 5-10 minutes, or until fragrant (don't allow pecans to burn). Remove from the heat.
Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, melted butter and milk until well blended.
Place half the bread cubes in the buttered dish, top with the chopped pecans, then pour half the liquid mixture over the bread. Add the remaining bread cubes and top with remaining liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and let set for 30 minutes, gently pressing the cubes underneath the liquid a few times to make sure the bread is moistened. Remove plastic, cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.
Uncover the pudding, drizzle 1 cup of the warm Whiskey Vanilla Sauce over it, and bake for an additional 5 minutes, uncovered. Let set for at least 5 minutes before cutting. Serve the remaining Whiskey Vanilla Sauce with the pudding.
WHISKEY VANILLA SAUCE
While pudding is baking, combine the sugar, cream, spices, and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. When the butter is melted, combine the whiskey, cornstarch, and vanilla in a small bowl, then slowly whisk the whiskey mixture into the gently boiling sauce.
Boil gently for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Whip the cream and keep in refrigerator until serving time.
Dish up the hot pudding, place a dollop of whipped cream on top, and drizzle with some of the Whiskey Vanilla Sauce (serve the remaining Whiskey Vanilla Sauce with the pudding).
NOTE: Bread pudding may be made with any type of unseasoned, leftover bread. Unseasoned meaning not garlic, cheese, rye or other flavored savory bread. While the original purpose of this dessert was to avoid wasting bread, I know more than one cook who keeps a bag of old bread cubes in the freezer--to avoid wasting the bread, but more importantly to have the main ingredient for this dessert. The ingredients other than stale bread are usually in a pantry and refrigerator, so this is a quick and easy dessert for unexpected company or for a sudden urge for a homey, comforting dessert.