The Best Bread Pudding Ever*

* baked at my house….

This Thanksgiving, we’re sharing our home and our holiday with a trio of South Korean exchange students (college friends of my son). In honor of that, and in the spirit of tradition, my menu includes a lot of special dishes.

When asked, my son requested bread pudding — a dish I don’t usually make, but which I made on at least one previous occasion (probably only one). I don’t remember the holiday, but my son not only remembers, he wishes I’d made it far more often.

Apparently, I get an F in “communicating about the favorite dishes.”

In the interest of actually cooking things I’m familiar with when company’s present, I did a test run on bread pudding over the weekend. I used a recipe from a cookbook I inherited from my father–complete with his bookmarks and margin notes. I tweaked the recipe a little (and added my first margin notes to the book, thereby officially changing its status from “Dad’s cookbook” to “two-generation family cookbook”).

When I mentioned the pudding on Twitter and Facebook, I had a surprising number of requests for the recipe. Here it is, in time for Thanksgiving sharing:


4 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk

3/4 cup white sugar

2.5 cups whole milk

2.5 cups heavy cream

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract (use real vanilla – no cheating. In fact, use BOURBON VANILLA if you can find it).

3/4 Teaspoon ground nutmeg (I use slightly more, but I really like nutmeg)

1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 Teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 Teaspoon salt

1/2 to 3/4 of a large round loaf of sourdough bread*, sliced 3/8 inch thick (or do what I do and buy it pre-sliced, yo) and cubed into 1 inch squares(If you like your bread pudding slightly mushier, use less bread. If you like it more dry…more bread. I end up using somewhere in the middle.)

* If you don’t like sourdough, feel free to use regular white bread or French bread, but the sourdough adds a lovely depth and a little extra flavor to the finished product.

1 Tablespoon butter, melted, plus additional butter to grease a baking pan.

Topping: 2 tablespoons white sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, mixed together

1. Whisk eggs, yolk, and sugar until well blended. Add milk, cream, vanilla, salt and spices. Whisk well. 

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. (Fahrenheit. If you’re on Celsius, you’ll need to do some math at this point.)

3. Stir in bread cubes. Mix carefully but thoroughly to ensure the bread is moistened. Set the bowl aside and let the bread soak in the custard mixture for 20 minutes.

4. While you’re waiting, go ahead and drink the bourbon that you probably bought to use in the bread pudding, since most recipes call for bourbon. Yay! Free bourbon!

5. Grease a 13×9 inch baking dish. (Always fun when you’re liquored up. Please try not to butter the cat while you’re at it.)

6. Pour the custard and bread cube mixture into the baking dish. Brush the top layer of the bread with melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar topping across the top. (If you’re really lazy, or forgot to handle that step earlier, just sprinkle sugar over the top and then sprinkle cinnamon. That’s what I did…it came out fine.)

7. Do not sprinkle cinnamon on the cat. They really hate it. Don’t ask how I know.

8. Bake in a 325 degree oven until the pudding is a rich golden brown, is rising up the sides of the baking dish, and the center part jiggles like a firmly-set Jello mold when you shake it. (The sides should be set.) According to the cookbook, this takes 45-50 minutes. According to my oven, it takes closer to an hour. I suggest checking it at 45 minutes, and then every 5-10 minutes after that until it reaches the consistency you’re looking for.

You’ll know the bread pudding is done when a knife inserted into the custard between the bread comes out partially clean and partially coated in mostly-set custard.

9. The cookbook says we should let this lovely bread pudding cool until it reaches “set but still warm” — about 45 minutes. Good luck with that. In my house, it lasted exactly four minutes and thirty seconds before the first spoon went in.


OK, I’ve showed you mine, now show me yours: What desserts are you having at your Thanksgiving feast?