Bread Pudding From Humble Origins to Fine Restaurants

As a child growing up I turned my nose up at certain foods I was sure I didn’t like even if I hadn’t tasted them! Foods on my “will not eat” list included peas, coleslaw, broccoli, liver, tomatoes, lamb, mincemeat pie, and bread pudding. A pudding made with bread didn’t sound good to me at all. As my taste buds matured I found that I really did like most of these foods, especially bread pudding!

For me anyway, the name “bread pudding” comes nowhere close to describing this truly delicious dessert. One of our favorite restaurants serves this golden brown bread custard with a thick creamy sauce that makes it a truly memorable dessert. You can even serve bread pudding for breakfast or brunch.

Did you know that Bread Pudding is an old fashioned dessert with humble beginnings in 13th century England? It was first known as a “poor man’s pudding” as it was made from stale leftover bread that was just moistened in water, to which a little sugar, spices and other ingredients were added. We still make bread puddings with bread but the breads are often made especially for this pudding and the types are wide ranging; breads like brioche, challah, croissant, panettone, French, Italian, raisin bread or scones.

Today, we are not content to simply soak the bread in water; instead we use a rich custard mixture of milk or cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices. Sometimes even nuts, chocolate, fruit zests, alcohol, candied, dried or fresh fruits are added for more flavor and texture. The result is a rich, creamy, decadent dessert that has now made its way onto the dessert menus of many fine restaurants.

Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce

1 pound French style bread

3 1/4 cups milk

3 eggs

2 teaspoons Watkins Vanilla

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon Watkins Cinnamon

1/4 cup pecans

1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Bourbon Sauce, recipe follows

Tear bread into medium pieces. Add sugar and cinnamon. Mix milk, lightly beaten eggs, and vanilla. Add to bread mixture. Place 1/2 mix in casserole. Layer pecans and raisins, if used. Top with the rest of the mix. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until lightly brown. Serve warm with Bourbon sauce.

Bourbon Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon Bourbon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon white corn syrup

1 teaspoon Watkins Vanilla

In a sauce pan mix all ingredients. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Serve warm. Pour over bread pudding.

Apple Pie Bread Pudding – Slowcooker Recipe

Watkins Cooking Spray

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups milk, half-and-half, or light cream

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon Watkins Cinnamon or Apple Bake Seasoning

1 21-ounce can chunky apple pie filling

6-1/2 cups cinnamon-raisin bread cut into 1/2-inch cubes, dried* (4-1/2 cups dry)

Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

1. Lightly coat the inside of a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

2. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, and sugar. Gently stir in pie filling and bread cubes. Pour mixture into the prepared cooker.

3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 3 hours until a knife inserted near center comes out clean (mixture will be puffed). Remove liner from cooker, if possible, or turn off cooker. Let stand, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes to cool slightly before serving (pudding will fall as it cools).

4. To serve, spoon bread pudding into dessert dishes. If desired, top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Makes 6 servings.


To make 4-1/2 cups dry bread cubes, you’ll need 8 or 9 slices fresh bread. Spread bread cubes in a single layer in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in a 300 degree F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until dry, stirring twice; cool.

Apple Bread Pudding

3/4 cup raisins

1 teaspoon Watkins Cinnamon

1/2 loaf good 1-day-old bread, 4 cups cubed

4-5 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted

1 cup milk

1 cup cream

1/4 cup butter

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon Watkins Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Watkins Ginger

1/4 teaspoon Watkins Nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon Watkins Cloves

1 teaspoon salt

Butter an 8 x 8 square baking dish. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the raisins with the cinnamon and set aside in a separate bowl.

Put the bread cubes in the oven for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, to toast.

In a large frying pan, saute the apple pieces with the butter and brown sugar until golden and barely tender. Mix the apples, raisins, and walnuts.

In a small saucepan heat the milk, cream, butter, and brown sugar until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the eggs and egg yolks. Whisk in the spices and salt.

Mix the toasted bread in with the apple mixture. Spoon into an 8 x 8 inch baking dish and pour the cream mixture over. Let sit for an hour, if you have time, to absorb, or bake right away. Bake for about 45 minutes or until set. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Serve with Caramel Sauce.


1 3/4 teaspoons Watkins Apple Bake Seasoning can be substituted for the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves in the egg mixture.

Caramel Sauce

2 cups cream

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup water

Pinch salt

1/4 cup butter

Warm the cream in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. While it’s warming, add the sugar and water to a large, heavy, high-sided pan over high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then leave it alone to boil until it reaches a deep amber color. You are looking for a dark caramel here,  because you will be adding cream, so don’t flinch and take it off the heat when it’s still just pale gold!

Remove from heat and whisk in the cream. Be very careful and add the cream slowly – the caramel is going to bubble up violently! Add the pinch of salt and butter and whisk smooth. Simmer until slightly reduced. Makes approximately 3 cups. This will keep in the fridge for at least two weeks.

Apple Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

4 cups soft bread cubes

1/4 cup raisins

2 cups peeled and sliced apples

1 cup brown sugar

1 3/4 cups milk

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon Watkins Cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon Watkins Vanilla Extract

2 eggs, beaten

Vanilla Sauce

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup margarine

1 teaspoon Watkins Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 7×11 inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine bread, raisins, and apples. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup brown sugar, 1 3/4 cups milk, and 1/4 cup butter or margarine. Cook and stir until margarine is melted. Pour over bread mixture in bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs. Pour bread mixture into prepared dish, and pour egg mixture over bread.

Bake in preheated oven 40 to 50 minutes, or until center is set and apples are tender.

While pudding is baking make the Vanilla Sauce.

Mix together 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/2 cup margarine in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Serve over bread pudding.

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