This foolproof, easy bread pudding is made using kitchen staples: bread, eggs, butter, cream, cinnamon, vanilla and raisins. The results are buttery but not too heavy. It’s a classic dessert that’s great for parties!
I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I technically only prepared bread pudding from scratch for the first time a few months ago. I say technically because once I got started on this recipe, I realized it was almost identical to the baked French toast variations I’ve been preparing for years (check out my Pecan Pie French Toast Bake and Baked Chai Spiced French Toast if those sound appealing).
This bread pudding recipe is adapted from The Hamilton Cookbook, by my dear friend Laura Kumin. I first prepared it for her book launch party in December, and was totally blown away by the recipe. People kept complimenting me on it, and I was like “It’s not my recipe! I just followed Laura’s directions, go compliment her!” The only change I made (which I’ve made here as well) was to double the recipe since it was being served at a party.
Laura is one of the first bloggers I met in DC. She’s been a wonderful friend, and she even hosted my cookbook launch party. This book was such a perfect project for her! Living in DC can be quite interesting at times, and I can only imagine what a unique experience it was putting these recipes together. Hearing Laura discuss how she did research at the Library of Congress was fascinating. I asked if she could summarize the experience, and here’s what she had to say:
“It was amazing to research cooking in Hamilton’s time. I loved “leafing” through digitized versions of 18th cookbooks for recipes. But even more fun was researching at the Library of Congress with the librarians there. They’re eager to help anyone who cares about the treasures in the Library collections. With their knowledge and guidance, I found some truly incredible sources.”
In addition to her cookbook, you can check out more of Laura’s recipes on her blog, Mother Would Know!
- As Laura puts it, “The better the bread, the better the bread pudding.” Don’t use a sliced pre-packaged bread. Get something from the bakery (or bakery section at your grocery store). Let it sit out for a couple days to dry so it can absorb the other ingredients. If you’re short on time, simply dry out the bread in the oven.
- I used golden raisins (they were leftover from my apple noodle kugel). Standard raisins are fine; use what you have.
- I doubled the recipe in the cookbook (with the exception of the butter topping; that’s the same amount). If cutting this recipe in half, use a 2-quart casserole or soufflé dish. The baking time may reduce slightly; 45-60 minutes is the suggested time in the book. This version was never ready in 45 minutes (at least, not in my oven).
- 1 pound crusty artisan bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (preferably 1-2 days old)
- 4 cups whole milk
- 8 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 cups raisins (I used golden raisins)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for buttering the dish
- If the bread is not already stale, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and place in a 300 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes, until dry.
Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Butter a 4-quart casserole dish (or a similar sized baking dish), set on top of a baking sheet and set aside.
Combine the bread and milk in a large bowl. Let the ingredients sit until most of the milk is absorbed, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs, sugar, raisins, cream, cinnamon, and vanilla.
- Pour the ingredients into the prepared casserole dish, and let stand on the counter for 20 minutes to give the mixture time to soak into the bread.
If a lot of raisins are on the surface, you can press some of them down for more even distribution. You can also optionally press down on the bread with clean hands, gently, to compress the ingredients a bit. Top evenly with the pieces of butter.
- Place the baking sheet with the casserole dish in the oven and bake for approximately 55-65 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Let the bread pudding cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes before serving.
Adapted from The Hamilton Cookbook by Laura Kumin