{recipe} The Best Way To Make Bread Pudding: Lose the Bread and the Pudding

When it comes to bread pudding, I don’t f*** around. For one thing, I never just use bread. A cinnamon swirl loaf is acceptable. Banana bread, maybe. Croissants – yes. Chocolate croissants – even better. Slightly stale cake – you betcha. Scrape off the frosting and now we’re talking. This is the first step to great bread pudding – don’t just use bread. Even brioche or challah – too boring, no texture, no sweetness.

The second step: don’t use pudding. Use creme brulee instead.

The third step is to add other stuff in addition to the “bread” and the “pudding”, like chocolate chunks, caramel, berries, nuts, whatever.

This is why people love my bread pudding – because it’s actually creme brulee-infused cake studded with delicious morsels. Now here is why you should love it: it takes about 5 minutes to prep and uses up your stale pastries and cake without waste, and nearly everyone likes it. It’s a great thing to have in your repertoire around the holidays, when there are lots of extra people and food around. Plus, you can easily half or double the recipe depending on how much leftover bread (by which I mean cake) you have.

This particular pan was made out of half of a stale Kentucky Jam Cake (I scraped the frosting off before cubing) because I couldn’t eat a whole cake by myself fast enough. I added the remains of a pint of mushy, overripe raspberries which baked up juicy and sweet.

Recipe: Best Bread Pudding
serves 4-6


  • About 4 cups of cake, bread, or pastry cubes (about 1 inch cubes is best)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or a vanilla bean if you’re fancy like that)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 Tblsp sugar (adjust up or down depending on sweetness – this is a low-medium amount of sugar that would work for something like a banana bread.)
  • Extra stuff to mix-in


  • Preheat oven to 250.
  • If bread or cake is a few days old and a bit stale and hard, just use it as is. If it’s fresh soft cake or bread, toast in a 350 degree oven or toaster to dry out a bit before using.
  • Heat cream in saucepan until hot but not bubbling. Turn off heat and add vanilla extract. (If using a vanilla bean – cut in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into cream, then add the pod. Remove pod before going on to next step.) Let sit until it cools to room temperature.
  • Whisk yolks and sugar cream until fully incorporated.
  • In a loaf pan or half-size casserole pan, arrange half the bread in the bottom and pour half the cream mixture over. Sprinkle with half of the mix-ins (chocolate, nuts, fruit, etc.) Repeat with remaining bread, cream, and mix-ins. Press mixture down with the back of a large spoon or your hands, so it’s tightly packed in and all bread is moistened.
  • Bake at 250 for about 20-30 minutes, until custard is set but wobbly. Serve warm with ice cream.

Variations (the possibilities are endless!):

  • cinnamon swirl bread – semi-sweet or dark chocolate chunks – optional orange zest
  • spice cake – raspberries – optional nuts
  • banana bread – chocolate chunks – optional flaked coconut
  • lemon cake – blueberries or blackberries – optional sliced almonds
  • chocolate cake or pastry – raspberries
  • chocolate cake or pastry – caramel sauce or cut up caramels

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5 Responses

  1. Scarlett Rose says:

    Love the compositions. It looks yummy. My kids like bread pudding so much. So I am going to try this. Let’s hope for the best 🙂

  2. Miss Brown Eyes says:

    I had some left over pumpkin spice Povitica bread. Combined with basic egg custard and raisins, and a drizzle of dulce de leche sauce…What a great use for stale bakery products that otherwise go to feed the wild animals or the trashcan. I’m so glad you wrote this post, Karen. I won’t throw any stale bakery items again!

  3. i made this with a spice cake, frosting and all with coconut added and a whiskey and peach sauce… whoa nelly !

  1. July 21, 2014

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