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Bread Pudding: when the bread goes wrong – Let’s Get Baked


bread-puddingOne of the most intimidating thing about making homemade bread is the fear that the bread won’t turn out. There are a couple of ways we can define the bread as not having turned out: The bread is burnt, or the yeast fails to rise at some part in the process, so instead of a light loaf, you get a dense, undercooked mess.

If the bread is burnt, sometimes you can cut off the burnt parts. But what to do with the dense mess that sort of seems like bread, and might even be edible as bread, but isn’t something you want anybody else to find out you made? That is when you make bread pudding, if you don’t want to throw the whole thing out.

It might make you feel better to know that sometimes I have bread failures; I had one last month, actually. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I think in my case, it was a combination of factors. I let the bread rise on a wood stove, which may have killed the yeast if it got too hot. I also baked it at a friend’s house, at 35o degrees instead of 450, and there was a casserole baking in the same oven. What we ended up getting with the bread was the dense “brick” I was describing. It was a disaster.

Fortunately, my friends liked the bread anyway, but at the end of the evening, I confiscated the leftover loaf and a half of Italian bread. And the next day, I turned it into bread pudding and served it to the same friends.

One of the best things about bread pudding is that there are so many variations you can make with it. Today, I am going to give you a basic recipe. Honestly, though, I don’t use a recipe when I make it, but these proportions should work well. And, of course, you can use perfectly nice bread with this too, or bread that is a few days old and drying out. Croissants would be fantastic.


1-2 baguettes of bread (you do NOT want to use a store-bought loaf for bread pudding. It’s disgusting). Whether you get long and skinny French or fat Italian is up to you; the more bread you have, the larger the pan you need to use. I have used a casserole dish, a bundt cake pan, and a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. they all work well.

At least 2 cups of milk, cream, or half-and-half or some combination thereof. Honestly, I don’t really think you need to use whole cream for great bread pudding (though, some warm cream on top is marvelous!).

3-5 eggs, depending on how much bread you have. If you are using a 9 x 3 inch pan, you are probably good with 3. If you are using a bundt cake pan or a casserole dish, or some other deep dish, I’d go up to 4-to-5 eggs.

3/4 cup sugar. I’d use more if you have the case that I did recently where I had so much bread that I ended up using two pans and making twice as much pudding. In that case, I’d definitely use 5 eggs, as well.

1-2 teaspoons of vanilla

1/2- 1 cup raisins (optional, but I don’t really think it’s bread pudding without the raisins)

1-2 tsp nutmeg

1-2 tsp cinnamon


As you can see, this is a very simple, basic recipe. There are tons of variations you can use also: Use chocolate chip or pumpkin bread; add chocolate chips to the pudding itself; add whiskey or use a different kind of flavoring besides vanilla; add dried cherries or dried cranberries or apples or orange peel or a bit of orange juice. You get the idea. I have even seen cornflakes crumbled and added as a topping.


Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray your baking pan with cooking spray.

Heat your milk until it’s almost at a boil (scalded). Then, let it cool for a bit so it doesn’t cook the eggs. In the meantime, you will tear apart your bread into bite-sized pieces and fill your pan with it. You can fill a bundt cake pan half way, but I’d go ahead and fill a baking pan or casserole dish.

When the milk has cooled, beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla. Pour this mixture over the top of the bread and sprinkle the raisins throughout. Then, add your cinnamon and nutmeg over the top. Then, let this mixture sit, unbaked, for 30 minutes.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown.

Serve either alone or with warm cream, whipped cream, maple syrup, or powdered sugar. Enjoy! (This will feed 7 hungry adults easily, with seconds).

Photo Credit: ComeUndone/Flickr

One Response to “Bread Pudding: when the bread goes wrong – Let’s Get Baked”

February 12, 2009 at 4:23 PM

Mmmmm! And to repeat, Mmmmmm! Bread Pudding probably occupies 5 spots in my list of 10 favorite foods. I have so many recipes and each is a little different when done, plus changing the bread within the same recipe can make a very different pudding, too.

You didn’t include the secret step where you bake out 90% of the calories. I’ve been looking everywhere for how to do that.

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