This bread pudding starts with toasted French bread cubes soaked in a bourbon-spiked custard, then layered with bourbon-soaked raisins, baked, and drizzled with a bourbon cream sauce. This classic southern dessert is perfect for Christmas, Mardi Gras, or any special occasion.
For the Bread Pudding:
- 118 to 20-inchFrench baguette, torn into 1-inch pieces((10 cups))
- 8egg yolks
- 1½cupslight brown sugar
- 3cupsheavy cream
- 1cupwhole milk
- 1tablespoonvanilla extract
- 1½teaspoonsground cinnamon(divided)
- ¼teaspoonground nutmeg
- 3tablespoonsgranulated sugar
- 6tablespoonsunsalted butter(cubed and chilled)
For the Bourbon Sauce:
- ¾cupheavy cream
- 2teaspoonsunsalted butter(cut into small pieces)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish; set aside.
- Arrange the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp and brown, about 12 minutes, turning pieces over halfway through and rotating the baking sheet front to back. Let bread cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, heat raisins and ½ cup bourbon in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until bourbon begins to simmer, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain the mixture, placing the bourbon and raisins in separate bowls.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, cream, milk, vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk in in the remaining ¼ cup bourbon plus the bourbon used to plump the raisins. Toss in the toasted bread until evenly coated. Let the mixture sit until the bread begins to absorb custard, about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. If the majority of the bread is still hard when squeezed, soak for another 15 to 20 minutes.
- Pour half the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with half the raisins. Repeat with the remaining bread mixture and raisins. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix the granulated sugar and remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Using your fingers, pinch 6 tablespoons butter into the sugar mixture until the crumbs are the size of small peas. Remove the foil from pudding, sprinkle with the butter mixture, and bake, uncovered, until the custard is just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake until the top of the pudding forms a golden crust, about 2 minutes.
- Let the pudding cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours). Serve alone or with Bourbon Sauce (I strongly recommend the bourbon sauce).
Make the Bourbon Sauce: In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of bourbon until well combined.
- Using a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat, and stir in salt, butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon. Drizzle warm sauce over bread pudding. Leftover bread pudding can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a 350-degree oven covered with foil.
- While a French baguette is preferred for this recipe, you can use another type of bread if you'd like.
- If you do not care for raisins, they can be omitted or substituted with another dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.
- The bourbon can be substituted with another liquor if you'd like to switch up the flavor. Some ideas would be whiskey, rum, Kahlua, amaretto, etc.
- The bourbon can also be omitted entirely if necessary. You can plump the raisins in water and replace the remaining bourbon in the recipe with milk or cream.
- Make-Ahead Instructions: You can prepare the bread pudding through step #5 (before baking), cover and refrigerator for up to 1 day before baking. The bourbon sauce can also be prepared up to 2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator, then reheated before serving. Alternatively, you can bake the bread pudding, cool, cover and refrigerator for up to 2 days, then reheat in the oven, covered at 350 degrees before serving.
- Freezing Instructions: The bread pudding can be baked, cooled completely, refrigerated for at least 2 hours, then frozen. To freeze, cover the pan tightly with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in a 350-degree oven, covered, until warmed through, about 15 minutes.