I can't live without Bread Pudding. Please don't ask me to.
Years ago, I started making Bread Pudding. It was one of those foods that TOLD me I needed to have it in my life. The same thing happened with Hummus. Weird, I know. Anyway, there is so much to LOVE about Bread Pudding! There are so many varieties that can be made. There really is no limit to the creativity you can express with a Bread Pudding. That's important to me. Not only do I want my food to taste good, I want to show my creativity when I make something. Weird, I know. Wait? Did I say that already?? (grin)
I have some tricks to my Bread Pudding production, which I will share below. If you're looking for the recipe for the one pictured above, go to here to retrieve it.
Day old bread is wonderful for Bread Pudding. You want your bread of choice to be dry enough to soak up the liquid mixture without getting soggy and turning into a gooey mass.
Tear your bread into chunks at let it air out for a bit before you add the liquid; this serves to help with the outcome I describe in the 1st tip.
Bread choice: I love Croissants for this. They have a texture that is hard to beat, and provides the ultimate texture outcome in my opinion. However, it does make for a very rich product. A good substitute to use bakery butterflake rolls if you can find them. They are similar in texture to a croissant without the extra fat that is inevitable with croissants. You can also mix a fuller fat bread with a standard bread choice as that makes for a great texture as well. The recipe I have featured is made with Orange Butterflake rolls that did not have an icing on them. I got lucky at the day old rack that day and bought 5 boxes of them...the remainder are still stored in Ziplocs in my freezer awaiting another batch.
As far as standard bread goes, I prefer something that does not have a rough crust or interior (with one exception, which I will explain in a moment). Good soft ranch rolls or potato rolls are nice, just make sure they are day-old as fresh ones will turn into mush. Thin baguettes aren't great because of their extra dry texture. You are shooting for something in between too soft and too hard.
On that note, I discovered a bread a couple of years ago that I really enjoy making Bread Pudding with. It's called "Dutch Crunch Bread" and I can only find it at WinCo in my region. Perhaps other bakeries around the country have something similar. It's actually a lactose-free bread that is made with oil and has a little crunchy topping. I love that texture in my puddings, because the other part of the bread is quite firm so the contrast is delightful.
Cream vs. Flavored Creamer vs. Half and Half. Heck, I use all 3 in the same batch sometimes! It's really a matter of taste and what you want your product to be flavored like. Take note: If you DON'T use a flavored creamer, you WILL need to add more sugar to make up the difference. The proportions I list in the recipe I have linked here will give you a good guideline for how much liquid vs. bread you need. Increase the sugar if you aren't using a flavored creamer. On that note, there are SO many new creamers on the market! You can really have a hey-day with making up new concoctions. I know I do! And everytime I make a new flavor up, I say "Man, this is the best one I've ever made!" Until the next one, and then I say the same thing about that one!
If you really want to take your texture up a notch, then follow my extra-secret, extra-step trick. After the bread has been torn and dried for an hour, pour about 1 cup of cream (not a flavored creamer, though) over the top of the bread. Then cover it, and smash it down with something heavy. Let it sit that way for an hour or so. You will be amazed at how the bread will soak up all of the cream, and you have just created heaven in a pan. When you add the remaining ingredients, your bread will act as if it's just spent the day at the spa and it will come out even MORE beautiful. Truly.
Mix-ins. I love nuts, so I will frequently add them to a batch. Chocolate chips, white chips, etc are also great. Additionally, Craisins, dried fruit and raisins (if you must...I will never add them to mine!) are good mix-ins. Also, don't forget to experiment with different extracts! There are tons of those on the market to enhance your concoctions!
ENJOY and let me know by comment what YOUR favorite Bread Pudding Flavors are!
Designer and Decorator. A Culinary Creator. One Happy Wife. Beautiful Life. Loving Mother. Helping Others. Love Trying New Things. My Husband Gives Me Wings.