Monday, December 15, 2008

Not your grandmother's bread pudding

warm gingerbread pudding with meyer lemon chantilly

It's not that I forgot to blog for the last two weeks. It's just that my stoopid computer caught one of those trojan virus thingys and was at the computer doctor for a week. Then I was lazy for a few days.
It's fixed and life/my blog may return to it's regularly scheduled programming.

Let's talk bread pudding, shall we? I first developed my geriatric-like obsession for this dessert (because, lets face it. The vast majority of those who ordered this dessert were of The Greatest Generation) while I was working at this little bakery in high school. It was a simple affair, made from the leftover cinnamon, orange, and pecan rolls. The combination of flavors from each roll was amazing. Caramel, cinnamon, and orange. All bound together with a very gently sweetened custard. The occasional pecan or golden raisin would pop up every other bite or so- but never obtrusively, for as a general rule, I am anti-raisin in bread pudding.

I have since eaten many other forms of this dessert made with brioche, cake, croissants, and plain old white sandwich bread. Some have been lovely (I once worked with a pastry chef that made a version using dried chocolate cake and a caramel custard. Holeee shit. That was a tasty 'un), and some have been downright despicable. There is a reputable restaurant in this city (who shall remain nameless) that prides itself on it's bread pudding. It is mushy, overly sweet and cloying. Nothing short of a travesty.

I think it comes down to the fact that there are two schools of thought on bread pudding. Those who allow the bread to completely soak up the custard before baking, creating a solid unit of indiscernible mush. And those who use a little restraint with that step, creating a pudding with more depth. I prefer the latter.

This gingerbread pudding is probably my second favorite incarnation of the dessert. The first being the one from my high school days. Sadly, I pretty much never have leftover cinnamon rolls, pecan sticky buns, and orange rolls sitting around. And unless we're visiting my in-laws, I avoid my hometown of Issaquah like the plague. That first taste of bread pudding will probably have to remain romanticized in my memory.

Okay- the recipe. I know it seems foolish to bake a perfectly good batch of gingerbread, only to cut it up and dry it out like croutons in the oven. Never will this seem more idiotic than with this recipe. It is that good. I took David Lebovitz's gingerbread recipe and tinkered with it. I replaced the oil with brown butter, and added the spices right in the pot with the butter as it browned to help their flavors bloom a little more. The result is a really tender, extra spicy (it almost tastes "hot") ginger cake. You may want to double the recipe so you have some fresh cake to snack on while the bread pudding bakes.


I garnish this dessert with meyer lemon chantilly, which is just a simple meyer lemon curd with a little whipped cream folded in....good enough to eat with a spoon, standing in front of the fridge with the door still open. But not that I've done that.


1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

4 oz butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda

2 T minced candied ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a sheet pan with baking release (like pam), line with parchment paper, and spray again. Sift the flour and salt together and set aside. Place a pot of water in the stove to boil. Combine the butter and the spices in a pot and melt over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown a little (this takes a minute or two, and will be difficult to tell when it has browned, as the spices are in there. Go by smell- it should begin to smell nutty.) Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, whisk the molasses, sugar, and egg together. Add the butter/spice mixture and whisk to combine.
Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.Measure out the 1/2 cup of boiling water and quickly stir the baking soda into it. Add to cake batter and stir gently until combined. Finally, add the minced ginger and stir. Pour the batter out onto the prepared sheet pan and bake for approximately 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Cut the cooled gingerbread into 1/2" cubes and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 325 for about 10 minutes. After the gingerbread has cooled, it will be somewhat crisp, like croutons.


Gingerbread pudding

8 cups loosely packed cubed gingerbread

3 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream

9 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T calvados, or brandy

Whisk the eggs, sugars, and spices together in a large bowl. Bring the milk and cream to a boil, the gradually whisk into the eggs. Strain the custard, then stir in the calvados and vanilla.
Butter a large souffle dish. Place the dried gingerbread in the dish and slowly pour the custard over the gingerbread. Place in a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with hot water, until the souffle dish is about halfway submerged. Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes. The custard will be set, but slightly wobbly in the center.
Cool to room temperature and serve.



Heather said...

I tried to make a savory bread pudding for Thanksgiving, but it got fucked up. I'll try again, later. This looks so much better than the whiskey bread pudding at McMenamin's, I can't can't even tell you. I've been totally jonesing for lemony curd-like yummeh.

cookiecrumb said...

Browned butter! Meow!

Also, I'm with Heather on savory bread pudding. Deborah Madison has a good recipe in Local Flavors.

Welcome to the Carb Time of Year.

The Spiteful Chef said...

You're damned right it's not my Grandmother's bread pudding. Because my Grandmother never made me bread pudding, or really any dessert at all for that matter. She DID make me various dishes featuring cabbage and asparagus, trying to con me into eating them by saying "they'll make yer pee stink." I'm not joking.

Your bread pudding looks positively ambrosial. I love me some puddings, though. Fo shizzle.

Brittany said...

Heather- I am often too distracted by the burger at McMenamin's (and the fact that it's the only place in town where tater tots are on the menu, earning them some serious bonus points in my book) to notice that they even have a dessert menu. I will avoid the bread pudding should I ever have room after the 2 or 3 pints.

Cookie- is there any thing better than butter? Yes. Brown butter. Nectar of the gods.

Kristie- You know, i've never experienced the stinky pee after eating asparagus and I've always felt kind of left out. Whats wrong with me?

peter said...

You don't have the gene for it. Some people don't.

You left your comment right as I was finishing up my new post. It's nice to have you back. (Mine also involves candied ginger, but indirectly.)

This looks awesome. I'll make you steak if you make me this.

cook eat FRET said...

no raisins in bread pudding
amen sistah brittany

looks great

but i am never eating dessert again as long as i live

ok - that's a lie...

but i like a custardy brea pudding. can i have this one with just a little extra custard?

matt wright said...

ohh look at you all christmased up with your poinsetta.

I love bread pudding, and like you hate the mush. This obviously looks fantastic, and perfect for these "holy shit it is cold" days.

Peter M said...

I love all the spices in here...5-spice too!

Puddings were something I'd have at a restaurant or an English friends' homes. I want some puddin'.

Brittany said...

This is awesome,my mom LOVES bread pudding, si this will be a nice surprise for Christmas dinner, assuming I don'tdestroy it andset my kitchen on fire. Fingers crossed!

Ann said...

Oh yum. Love the look of it. Oddly, I honestly don't know if I've EVER tried bread pudding...which seems weird. Maybe this would be a good xmas eve/xmas breakfast?

Brooke said...

That little bakery in Issaquah is the only place where I ever enjoyed eating bread pudding. I usually hate the stuff. And dude, I just want to munch upon the gingerbread. God I love a good gingerbread.

Sophie said...

I like both forms of bread pudding :), but this gingerbread version sounds like a must-try recipe! Delish :).

Brittany said...

Peter- Your use of candied ginger so out did mine in the creativity department that it belittles you to even mention it here.
...And you've got yourself a fucking DEAL.

Claudia- Raisins in bread pudding are for Republicans and the elderly.

Matt- I know. I'm feeling down right merry over here.

Peter- 5 spice is my secret weapon in just about everyting this time of year.

Brittany- Good luck! You'll be fine. This is an easy one.

Ann- Bread pudding and pie are both excellent for breakfast. Anytime I can eat dessert for breakfast I'm happy. You seriously need to try bread pudding though. A good one- not a smooshy overly sweet one.

Brooke- I KNOW! Let's go to the 'quah and eat bread pudding. We'll disuise ourselves so that bitch who owns the joint won't recognize us. OH! We can get turkey bacon sandwiches too!!

Sophie- Clearly you are a fan of bread pudding. I think you'll like this one ; )

Anonymous said...

Wow, does that seem decadent or what! I'm drooling that's for sure. Nice photos too. I just made a bread pudding post myself over at my blog. I focused on healthy recipes for Christmas morning. Come check it out when you have a chance.
Dana Zia

Peabody said...

Thank God it's not my grandmothers...she couldn't cook. :)
This looks and sounds really good. Though I must admit I like my bread pudding a little more on the mushy side.

Emily said...

This is so interesting. I love bread pudding but I'm never sure what the ideal texture should be. I think this would be great for a Christmas dessert.

Giada made one last night with panettone, and then she drizzled it with a cinnamon syrup.

So toast the bread before adding it to the pudding? Okay.

Anonymous said...

i love the smell of gingerbead baking-i bet this recipe is great for that! it looks delicious too, definitely bookmarking this recipe :)

Julius said...

Looks delicious!

Happy Holidays :)

~ Julius
from Occasional Baker

Anonymous said...


Thanks Norm!