First of all, bread pudding is not something I ever thought I would like. I have issues with texture sometimes… especially mixing textures. Nuts in my brownies? Fruit in my yogurt? Raisins in my cinnamon rolls? No way, man. Not for me. But when I had my first real taste of it two summers ago, I was hooked. It was brioche bread pudding with black currants, served warm with a house-made caramel sauce and fresh vanilla bean creme anglaise… I got so hooked on it that I would eat pieces of it cold, straight out of the walk-in. The texture was nothing like the soggy-bread consistency I expected it to be. It was so smooth and custardy. That same summer that there were pans of bread pudding around me at all times, I also had the opportunity to take home a lot of bread butts. What I had most of was sourdough, so I decided to try and make a bread pudding out of it, and it was a hit! Then I thought, how couldn’t banana make this any better? And so we have my version of banana bread pudding, made with artisan sourdough bread.
The key to any bread pudding is to start with stale cubes of bread. This allows the bread to dry out so that it can absorb all the custard goodness that will make for a uniform consistency when the bread pudding is baked. It’s your choice whether or not to leave the crust on. If the bread is dry enough to begin with, and you let the bread absorb the custard long enough before you bake the pudding, there shouldn’t be a huge difference. I have no interest in taking the time to cut off the crust.
Here is the remainder of a Trader Joe’s sourdough boule, about 3.5 cups, cubed and sitting in a bowl on the counter to get nice and stale:
After the bread pudding has soaked for an hour, just before going in to the oven to make the house smell amazing:
3 cups dry, stale bread cubes, crust on or off
1 whole egg + 2 yolks
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 cups half and half
1/4 cup brown sugar
Beat eggs in a bowl until they begin to turn lighter in color. Add white sugar, vanilla and spices, then add half and half and whisk together. Pour over bread cubes in an 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ glass pan. A glass pie pan will also work. Allow to sit for 1 hour, stirring a couple times through the process to make sure all pieces have been coated. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until set. Serve warm or cool, it’s great either way!