I adore bread pudding. When desserts are offered in restaurants and one of the offerings is bread pudding, I nearly always try it. Bread pudding varies so much by cook, by region, by season and by ingredient that it’s sort of like the “meatloaf” of the dessert world.
The whole point of bread pudding began with using the stale breads that were left at the end of a week. In our family, leftover biscuits or buns went into a bag in the freezer and just waited for the day they could be reborn into eggy and cinnamony goodness. (Yes, I know cinnamony isn’t a real word in YOUR dictionary, but it is in mine.) Today, recipes often call for a specific kind of bread, typically something like Challah or French bread. In my kitchen, we still use the leftovers and are proud of it. You’ll never know that this wonderful and tasty dessert was made with leftover buns and biscuits, unless I tell you. Which I just did.
This version was inspired by a recipe I found on Soulfully Made. I made some variations, but the basic recipe is the same.
About 4 cups of stale bread (biscuits, buns or rolls work best) or use a good loaf of Challah or brioche
4 cups half and half
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons bourbon (I used Jim Beam Apple Bourbon because I had it on hand and, well APPLE bourbon)
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped (I used a Gala)
1 cup chopped pecans
About 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar for topping
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread pieces with the half and half and vanilla. Let stand while you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients.
In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown and white sugars, stirring until well combined. Remove from heat. Temper the beaten eggs with a bit of the the butter/sugar mixture and then incorporate the eggs into the mixture in the skillet. Add the 4 tablespoons bourbon. Mix in the apples, cinnamon and 1/2 cup of the pecans.
Add in the bread mixture and fold in until well combined. At this point you can leave in the cast iron skillet to bake or pour mixture into a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining pecans and the turbinado sugar.
Cover with foil and bake for 55 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
To make the bourbon sauce:
In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, melted butter and 2 Tablespoons bourbon until smooth. Whisk in the heavy cream, continuing to mix until smooth. Drizzle sauce on top of warm bread pudding, reserving some to pour on individual servings. Serve while warm.