My husband has been on a bread pudding kick. If we go to a restaurant, he wants to order bread pudding for dessert. If I ask him what dessert he wants me to make, he suggests bread pudding. To satisfy this craving of his, I decided to try making bread pudding myself. I was happy with the results of my first bread pudding attempt! Had I not added the sauce, the taste of bourbon would not have been as present, but with the sauce you got just enough bourbon flavor. My only complaint regarding this recipe is the recommended loaf pan used to bake the pudding. A loaf pan is rather deep, so the pudding located in the bottom of the dish does not bake as well, even with the hot water bath. Next time my husband requests bread pudding, and trust me there will be a next time, I am going to try using a more shallow pan or possibly individual ramekins.
Bourbon Bread Pudding with a Bourbon Glaze
8 oz baguette (or egg-rich bread), preferably stale – I used Challah
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
Have a nonreactive 9x5 inch loaf pan on hand (a Pyrex or pottery pan is perfect here), as well as a roasting pan big enough to hold the loaf pan. Line the roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.
Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes. If the bread is stale, put it in the loaf pan. If it is not stale, spread it out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and bake in a 350 degree oven to "stale" it for 10 minutes, then put it in the pan.
Bring the milk and cream just to a boil.
Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl. Still whisking, slowly drizzle in about one quarter of the hot milk mixture - this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they don't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining milk. Add the bourbon and vanilla and almond extracts and whisk gently to blend. Rap the bowl against the counter to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help cover it with liquid. Cover the pan lightly with wax paper and leave it on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for 1 hour.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350.
Discard the wax paper and cover the pan snugly with a piece of aluminum foil; poke about 5 holes in the foil. Slide the pan into the oven and very carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding pan. Bake the pudding form 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more, or until the pudding is puffed and golden and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool the pudding until it is just warm, or until it reaches room temperature.
The bread pudding is best served at room temperature - the texture is best then and the flavors most pronounced. You can refrigerate the pudding, but it loses its lusciousness as its temperature drops. Cut the pudding into thick slices and use a pie server to lift the the pieces from the pan. Serve the pudding plain, with a big spoon,with fruit such as berries or caramelized apples, our with a Bourbon Butterscotch glaze (recipe below).
Bourbon Butterscotch Sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 cup butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients. Cook in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture just comes to a good simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 to 5 minutes, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Transfer to a heat-proof container, cover and cool slightly before serving. Sauce will thicken a bit as it cools.
Yields a little over 1 cup.