The Comforts of Bread Pudding

While Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed the way we manage our daily lifestyles, it does not mean that we cannot enjoy some of our favorite things. Food brings people together in good times and bad. During this time of social distancing and self-quarantining, it is difficult to venture out to enjoy your favorite restaurants, but we can make our favorite comfort foods at home for our friends and family.

We aren’t sure what it is about bread pudding that makes it such a revered comfort food; maybe it’s the added warmth of the oven on a cool day or the soft scent of vanilla and cinnamon. Maybe it is the nostalgia; the yearning for a simpler time when dessert was a simple finish to a humble home-cooked meal; a dish made with modest, unpretentious ingredients.

  • 6 cups very stale plain white bread cubes
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups milk
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans, dry roasted (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut the bread into one-inch cubes and arrange on a cookie sheet. Place the bread cubes in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, tossing and rotating midway through toasting. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the custard mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs on high speed with an electric mixer until extremely frothy, about 3 minutes (or with a metal whisk for about 6 minutes).  Add the sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and butter and beat on high until well blended and the sugar is mostly dissolved.  Beat in the milk, and then stir in the raisins (and pecans if using).

Place the toasted bread cubes in a greased baking dish or loaf pans.  Pour the egg mixture over them and toss until the bread is soaked.  Press the cubes down into the liquid and let sit for about 15 minutes to allow cubes to fully absorb the liquid. Place in the preheated 350° oven and immediately lower the temperature to 300°F and bake 40 minutes.  Increase oven temperature to 425°F and bake until pudding is well browned and puffy, about 15 to 20 minutes more. Dust with cinnamon sugar and let stand for 15 minutes or so before serving.