Friday, May 17, 2013

Bread Pudding

by Sheila Connolly

I love traveling (except for the getting there and back again—where's a transporter when you need one?), and I love trying new things.  This month I've been through Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh and points between, and I came upon some great food, either because someone pointed me toward it or I stumbled on it by happy accident.

The concierge at my small hotel in Philadelphia suggested Talula's Garden around the corner, where I ordered a dish I won't even try to describe, much less make at home.  What I can say is that it was memorable because it contained a wonderful range of ingredients, and each bite tasted slightly different. (You can see the menu here.)

In a small town in New Jersey, where I was staying with a friend, I wandered into a restaurant called Sweet Lula's.  I went in because it was the first place I came to, and I was starving after a long day of driving across Pennsylvania.  Once inside I ordered from their ambitious menu and nearly dropped my fork at my first bite of their Roast Cod with Sage Brown Butter, it was that good. With grilled endive on the side—you can bet I'll try that this summer (I think the trick is to halve it and soak it in salted water so it doesn't cook too quickly on the grill).

Dessert there was bread pudding, and that's what I want to talk about here.  I seem to remember eating bread pudding most of my life, but when I went to look up recipes in my trusty cookbook collection (both old and new books), most of the recipes I found called for dry bread crumbs, and all I could think of was mush.  Lula's pudding was made with thick slices of bread.  Luckily I returned from my East Coast odyssey with a loaf of homemade apple cinnamon raisin bread, which worked just fine (and the slices fit very neatly in a 9-inch square pan).

This recipe is kind of a hybrid of French toast and custard, and it's easy to make.


Preheat the oven on 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9" square baking pan (this works for slices of bread—if you want to tear up the pieces you can use any pan you like).

Lay the bread slices in the pan. This took eight slices.  If you're using pieces, that's about four cups. If you want to add raisins or even a dried fruit like cranberries, now is the time.

Mix together:

2 eggs
2 cups milk (I used half milk, half cream)
½ cup white sugar
Nutmeg or cinnamon if you like

Beat the eggs, then add the milk, sugar and spice(s).  Pour the liquid over the bread and let it stand until the bread pieces are soaked through (a few minutes).

Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden.  I added caster sugar to the top before baking, for a little crunch.

You can serve this with whipped cream, ice cream or a sauce (Lula's offered whisky caramel sauce!)  It also kept surprisingly well for a day or two.


  1. I like the sound of that Sheila--almost like French toast, right? I had never liked bread pudding until we took a cruise where it was the specialty. Now I'm hooked!

  2. Oh YUM!!!! I have a loaf of bread that I made that has dried apricots and dried cherries in it. Your recipe will be perfect to use it up. My husband will love you for your recipe!! Thanks.

  3. First you mention Talula and then Lula. Interesting similarity.
    I admit to not having made bread pudding, but it has attracted my attention.
    I have a copy of a recipe from the Fresh Market site for "bread and butter pudding with hot whiskey sauce." Sounds yummy, doesn't it? But the actual recipe is crazy! They list the ingredients without differentiating between pudding and sauce items. It's complete chaos and unusable.
    Your recipe sounds infinitely more sane and approachable.
    Now all I have to do it figure out that hot whiskey sauce!

  4. Wow, that Talula menu is impressive. Your meal there must have been a memorable treat. I agree with your happy approach to traveling: make every trip a culinary adventure. Nice, easy bread pudding recipe, too. As an alternative to the whiskey sauce, I'll bet you could pour a bit of whiskey (or another liqueur) into the milk/egg mixture and bake it into the bread, as well. Put a scoop of ice cream on top, please, and I'll get my fork!

  5. Sheila, this looks so easy, I'll bet I can make it with my gluten-free bread, too. A culinary adventure. If you can't "go," at least you can read about it, right? Yum.

    Daryl / Avery

  6. Great recipe. Sheila. I love all this Irish stuff and I just finished Buried in a Bog. Loved that too!

  7. I am not usually a fan of bread pudding, but this sounds like something I would like. Years ago, a visiting friend insisted we go to a new restaurant because she had to try their famous bread pudding. It was fabulous! The top was a sugary crust infused with bourbon that was fantastic. I keep threatening to try to make it. Hmm . . .