I first made this recipe for Thanksgiving, but it also works for Christmas and other holiday meals or special occasions. The rich bread pudding spiked with a little bit of bourbon and a baked, crispy top is the perfect addition to any holiday table.
This is a recipe I tweaked from America’s Test Kitchen’s “The New Best Recipe” cookbook. (Side note: This cookbook is like a food Bible to me – it has saved me on several occasions from kitchen disasters.) As an extra, I included cranberries and walnuts to give it a little bit more flair and flavor. Top it off with some fresh whipped cream or some vanilla bean ice cream for the perfect ending to your meal, or snack on while unwrapping presents by the roaring fire with some egg nog.
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 1 percent and it turned out just fine)
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces good quality white bread (cut 3/8-inch thick and into 1 1/2-inch cubes) – about 8 cups (I used Pepperidge Farm’s Cinnamon Swirl Bread to spice it up even more)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing your baking dish
1. For the topping – Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
2. For the bread pudding – Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 13×9-inch baking dish.
3. Whisk the eggs, yolk and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk in the milk, cream, bourbon, vanilla extract, nutmeg and salt. If adding cranberries and/or walnuts, mix in to bowl. Stir in 6 cups of bread cubes. Mix thoroughly to moisten. Let stand 20 minutes.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Scatter the remaining 2 cups of bread cubes on top. Push them down slightly to partially submerge. Brush the exposed bread with the melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar topping. Bake until the pudding turns deep golden brown and it begins to rise up the sides of the baking dish. It should jiggle very slightly at the center when shaken. About 45 to 50 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and let cool until set but still warm, about 45 minutes. Serve as is or with whipped cream or ice cream.
Happy holidays and happy cooking!