Start to Finish: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Chunks of soft bread soaked with sweet egg custard make bread pudding a crowd-pleaser of a dessert. Make this dish with spiced and caramelized toast, in a recipe inspired by Julia Child’s Cinnamon Toast Flan, and you’ll be lucky to have leftovers for breakfast.
- 8 slices of French bread, 1-inch thick (day-old is best)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Broil the Cinnamon Toast
Move one of your oven’s racks to the highest position. Turn on the broiler.
Rub 1 tablespoon of butter over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch-by-9-inch baking dish.
Spread the remaining butter over one side of each bread slice. Combine 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Slide the baking sheet onto the top rack under the broiler. Let the slices cook for 30 to 60 seconds, just until the sugar is brown and bubbling. Watch the slices carefully; 10 seconds too long under the broiler can burn the bread and sugar.
Remove the baking sheet and let the slices cool for a few minutes. Cut them into 1-inch cubes.
Assemble the Pudding
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Arrange the cubes in the buttered dish. Pour the egg and milk mixture evenly over the cubes. Push down on the bread pieces so each one gets soaked by the liquid.
Refrigerate the dish for 30 minutes. Note that, if you’re rushed, you may bake the dish right away, but the refrigeration period helps the bread chunks soak up the liquid and makes the finished dish tender.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake the bread pudding for 45 to 50 minutes until the top turns golden and crusty. Slice into the center of the dish; if you see any wetness, return the pudding to the oven for another 5 or 10 minutes.
Tips and Variations
Bread pudding can be served hot or eaten cold. Serve it on its own, or top bowlfuls with vanilla ice cream. You can also sprinkle raisins or chopped pecans over the bread cubes before pouring the egg and milk mixture on top.
Substituting cinnamon bread for French bread and skipping the cinnamon-sugar broiling process will give your bread pudding the taste of this recipe but not the texture. If you do opt to make this change, butter the slices and broil them on their own. Taking this step gives the finished pudding a mix of creaminess and crispness.
This dish refrigerates well and holds up to reheating. Microwave a single serving for 30 seconds, or place the dish in the oven at 350 F for 15 minutes. If the pudding feels dry rather than moist and eggy, drizzle a few spoonfuls of cream over it before reheating it.