Perhaps you have been baking bread for the past many months and you have extra waiting in the freezer. Now it’s time to add bread pudding to your repertoire.
A good bread pudding is essentially bread and custard baked together, and welcomes a host of enhancements. It is often sweet, but can be savory, with the addition of vegetables like sauteed onions or mushrooms, shredded greens, peppers or fennel. Earthy sourdough and whole-grain breads enhance savory versions.
At breakfast on Christmas or New Year’s Day, consider a bread pudding with mushrooms and cheese instead of its cousin, a sweet French toast. Ham and sausage are other good ingredients to start with. Instead of a custard sweetened with sugar, a savory pudding takes salt, pepper and, often, cheese.
Regardless of your ingredients, a reliable basic formula for an 8-inch square or 8-cup baking dish to serve six is three eggs and 2 cups of milk, cream or a combination. Some recipes call for giving the bread a quick soak in the custard, others call for letting the ingredients sop up the custard for at least two hours, or even overnight. That can come in handy if you’d like to do your prep work the night before and keep the morning open for gathering around the tree.
Toward the end of the baking time the bread pudding will puff up; that’s a good indicator that it’s almost done. Wait another 5 minutes, then pull it out of the oven. Serve it warm.
Mushroom Bread Pudding
Adapted from Susan Spungen
- 1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more to grease pan
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces mixed fresh mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 8 fresh sage leaves, slivered, plus more for garnish
- 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, washed, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
- 3 large eggs
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- 8 ounces cubed bread (such as brioche or challah, about 5 cups)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and the oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
Add sage and shallots and cook, stirring, until shallot is translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Transfer to a plate.
Add remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter to same pan over medium. Add leeks, season with salt and cook, stirring, until leeks are wilted but not brown.
Return mushroom mixture to pan, stir and remove pan from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk and cream together until well-blended. Add cayenne and season well with salt and pepper. Whisk again, then stir in the Gruyere.
Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish.
Spread a thin layer of mushroom and leek mixture on the bottom. Add bread, then spread remaining mushroom mixture on top.
Pour egg mixture into dish, taking care that the cheese is evenly distributed. Press down lightly on the bread to be sure it is well moistened. Cover and set aside 2 hours or refrigerate for a longer time, up to overnight.
Allow the pudding to come to room temperature, a good 30 minutes before baking. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Uncover pudding, press down on bread again, then dust with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until set and lightly browned.
Let sit a few minutes, then scatter with sage leaves before serving. Serves 6.
Ham-and-Cheese Brioche Pudding
- 1 tablespoon butter, to grease pan
- 1 (12-ounce) brioche loaf or smaller loaves, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
- 6 eggs
- 4 cups half-and-half or whole milk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- Pinch cayenne
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
- 6 ounces thinly sliced ham, cut into matchsticks (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 8 ounces grated Gouda or Gruyere cheese (about 4 cups)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 11-by-11-inch baking dish. Fill dish with brioche cubes; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs well. Whisk in half-and-half, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne and scallions. Pour mixture over cubes in baking dish.
Sprinkle ham and cheese on top of mixture, and press down to make sure everything is submerged. Set baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet.
Place baking dish and baking sheet on middle shelf of oven; bake 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the dish emerges dry. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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