- Course: Dessert
- Skill Level: Moderate
- Cost: Moderate
- Favorited: 41 Times
Can be made ahead of time.
Bread puddings are very easy to make and a great way to use up leftover bread or croissants. You can flavor them any way that you like. The key to a good bread pudding to my mind is to let the bread soak in the custard mixture for at least 30 minutes before baking. When we made them at the restaurant, we’d let them soak overnight in the refrigerator before baking them in the morning. This insured a moist, custardy pudding.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Lightly butter the bread on both sides, put the bread on a large baking sheet, and bake in the oven, turning once, until lightly toasted on both sides. (If using croissants, you can omit this step.) In a small saucepan, whisk together the half-and-half, vanilla, lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon. Heat the mixture over medium heat until just about to simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1/3 cup of the brown sugar until smooth. Slowly pour in the warm cream mixture, whisking all the time. This tempers the egg yolks and makes for a more custardy pudding
Cut the bread into 1-inch squares and put in a large bowl. Pour the cream (custard) mixture over and stir gently. Allow to soak for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight in the refrigerator. Into a medium bowl, slice the bananas and toss with the remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar and the lemon juice. Stir this into the bread and custard mixture and pour into the prepared baking dish, making sure that the ingredients are evenly distributed. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons brown sugar over the top of the pudding.
Place the baking dish in a larger pan in the oven and add enough boiling water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the custard is mostly set. It will still be a little jiggly in the center but will set up as the pudding cools. Serve warm or at room temperature with Burnt Almond Caramel Sauce or whipped cream, if using.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes or until golden, then remove them and turn off the oven. Dot the almonds with 2 tablespoons of the butter and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, the hot water, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt. Cook the mixture over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 230°F. Add the wine, cream, espresso powder, vanilla, and almonds very carefully, since the caramel sauce will boil up. Stir over low heat until combined and smooth. Increase the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This recipe serves 10. Nutritional information is based on using 6 croissants, 1 tablespoon of butter to grease the pan, and does not include optional lightly whipped cream.