I didn’t really grow up eating bread pudding on a regular basis. I think my dad made it a few times– cubed bread, soaked in a cinnamon-laced egg-and-milk mixture, with some raisins thrown in. It was reasonably good whether hot or cold, but it was admittedly somewhat lacking in… something. There was no pop of flavor or texture to make it stand out. Later, once I tried pumpkin bread pudding, chocolate bread pudding, and even savory spinach-and-gouda bread pudding, I grew to love it and to try seeking out new variations on the theme. Because really, what could be easier than cutting up some stale bread, tossing in some extras, soaking it in custard, and sticking it in the oven?
The other day I realized that I’d inadvertently let a half-baguette go stale (usually I slice it up and freeze it before it gets to that point), and decided to make some use out of it. Going through my refrigerator for add-in options, I came across a small jar of clementine marmalade that I hadn’t used in a while and decided to give it a try as a flavor booster for “bread and butter pudding.”
What is bread and butter pudding, you may ask? (or at least, you may ask if you’re not in the UK, where it seems to be ubiquitous) It’s basically bread pudding, only instead of using plain bread soaked in custard, you butter (and sometimes sugar) the bread slices first, and often layer them flat rather than cubing the bread. I decided to take it a step further and actually use marmalade sandwiches (which, later Googling indicated, is an often-used variation).
The “recipe” is pretty open to tweaking, and honestly the only reason I measured anything was so I could give you a vague idea of the ingredient amounts here– I basically just did things according to what I thought would work. Essentially, I made marmalade sandwiches out of my bread, then buttered both sides of the sandwiches, cut them into pieces, and put them into a buttered pan. Then I mixed up some eggs and milk, added some flavorings, and poured it over the bread to soak. Sprinkle sugar on top and bake until done. It turned out delicious– the crunch of the toasted bread on top contrasted nicely with the soft creaminess of the pudding underneath, and something about the slight bitterness of the marmalade combined with the sweet, floral notes of the vanilla to made it wonderful. I really enjoyed it, and it took about 30 minutes from start to finish.
I think you could substitute all sorts of things, from the bread to the dairy to the flavoring, and it would still be good. Have fun. Experiment a little. And when you’re done you’ll have a panful of piping hot, fluffy bread pudding that works equally well for breakfast (I admit to eating it then) or dessert.
Bread and Butter Pudding with Clementine Marmalade (serves 4)
1/2 baguette (or 1/2 loaf of Italian bread)
1/4 cup clementine marmalade (regular marmalade should also be fine)
2-3 tbs. softened butter
1 1/2 cups milk or other dairy (you can add half-and-half or cream if you like)
1 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Extra sugar for sprinkling (I used demerara for this)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Slice your bread into rounds and make marmalade sandwiches.
3. Butter both sides of the sandwiches, then cut into manageable chunks.
4. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8″ square pan and place your sandwich chunks into it. (for a more traditional presentation, lay the sandwiches down in an overlapping layer)
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Pour slowly over sandwich chunks in the pan. Make sure you pour slowly enough that the top of the bread gets thoroughly soaked– otherwise all of your egg mixture will just pool in the bottom of the pan and the top will be too dry.
6. Sprinkle demerara sugar (or regular sugar) over the top of the soaked bread.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes, until puffed, golden, and crunchy on top. Pudding should not jiggle if you shake the pan.
8. Serve hot.
- I think a glug of bourbon, Gran Marnier, or dark rum would also be a nice addition to this recipe, if you’re not planning on serving it to kids. (and no, the alcohol does not “all cook off” unless you’re actually flaming it on the stove, so keep that in mind)
- I’ll bet putting a thin layer of cream cheese into the sandwiches would also be delicious.
- This recipe does make a relatively thin layer of dessert in the pan, and it won’t be packed in the way many bread puddings are. Feel free to add more sandwiches and custard until your chosen pan is full– it doesn’t puff that much at all so it’s unlikely to overflow. Because while I say this recipe serves 4, they aren’t particularly large servings and you may want a little more in the name of gluttony. 😉