Bread pudding is not a very popular dish in Vietnam. To the majority of Vietnamese, bread is something like rice, which “should” only be served in main courses or for breakfast. The idea of using bread to make desserts is quite weird to most of us. Hence, I was not interested in this pudding for quite a long time until the day when I had a big bunch of baguettes left after several “experiments” in my kitchen. Having no idea on what to do with them, I decided to make some bread pudding and it was probably among my wisest decisions.
My first bread pudding came out way over my expectation. It was a great combination of a crispy crust on top and a soft, creamy and tasty pudding underneath. I could never imagine from old bread and a simple milk and egg mixture, we could produce such delicious dish like that. And it was so simple and easy to make, too simple that sometimes I have the feeling it’s harder to make it wrong than right. Since that day, bread pudding “showed up” on my dinning table quite often, particularly when I have guests for dinner. And it has never failed to complete its mission, which is to gain many “wow!” from my guests
BREAD PUDDING RECIPE
TOOLS: 1 large pan of 24 x 17 x 5 cm, or any baking pans or ramekins you prefer.
- 300 gram (or 2/3 lb.) old bread (see Note)
- 40 – 50 gram (2 oz.) raisins
- 55 gram (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 6 medium-sized eggs (60 gram/egg including shell)
- 120 gram (1/2 cup plus 4 tsp) caster sugar
- 450 ml (2 cup minus 2 Tbsp) milk
- 450 ml (2 cup minus 2 Tbsp) whipping cream (30 – 35% fat)
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
- Rum/ coffee/ cocoa powder (if desired)
*Note: Almost every type of bread can be used for this recipe, except for savoury ones. According to Gordon Ramsay, however, Brioche and Croissants work best for bread pudding (from my experience, I totally agree!), thanks to their soft texture and richness in butter. Other sweet and soft breads, such as milk buns, also do fine. If you use sweet bread, remember to cut down on the amount of sugar used in the recipe.
Different types of bread have different weight, volume and softness; therefore, the amount of other ingredients also varies, depending on which bread is used. It is the amount of bread and the pan’s size that decide whether you should increase or decrease the amount of egg-cream mixture (as long as you keep the ratio among egg, sugar and other liquid ingredients constant), to make sure bread is covered and soaking up in the egg-cream mixture.
1. Slice bread into 0.5 – 0.8 cm slices.
Then lay them in the pan. Sprinkle raisins over and between the bread slices. Drizzle 2/3 the amount of butter over the bread.
2. Lightly beat the eggs with sugar (Just beat them until well-mixed, not whipped).
3. Add milk, whipping cream and vanilla extract to the egg mixture, and mix well.
– If you prefer a less creamy mixture, you can substitute whipping cream with milk of the same amount (I prefer using whipping cream for it helps enhance the taste and aroma of the pudding).
– You can also add other flavorings and/or ingredients such as rum, coffee, cocoa powder, etc. to the egg mixture if desired. There are two combinations of my favorite: “raisins, rum, vanilla, orange zest and cinnamon” and “vanilla, chocolate and coffee”. I use flavoring extracts for these ingredients; therefore, a small amount of 1/4 teaspoon is good enough. If coffee drink is used, for example, you can substitute part of the milk with coffee drink of the same amount, in order to maintain the ratio between liquid and dry ingredients (if too much liquid is added, bread pudding will become wet and mushy).
4. Pour the egg mixture over bread. Then slightly press to submerge bread into the mixture. Let it rest for 15 – 20 minutes for the mixture to be absorbed into bread.
5. Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) (top and bottom heat). Prepare a larger pan and boil water for water bath.
6. Brush melted butter on top of the bread before baking for a crispy crust later.
7. Place the sheet pan with bread inside the larger pan. Place them into the oven and pour hot water into the large pan about halfway up the sides of the small pan. Bake for 60 – 70 minutes.
– If the top crust turns brown too quickly, you may want to cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake until the pudding thickens and no longer looks wet while still having a soft and moist texture. Over-baked pudding will get hardened.
8. Let the bread pudding cool down completely, then wrap and keep it in the refrigerator. It is best to be served within 2 days, whether warm or cool. If you prefer serving it warm, you can microwave it or brush melted butter onto the pudding and bake it at 170 – 180 °C (340 – 355 °F) (in 3 – 5 minutes), the pudding will be warmed up and have crispy crust on top.
- Recipe and photos: Linh Trang
- Written by: Xuan Tran