Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bobo's Bread Pudding

Check out this month's Sugar High Fridays roundup at

I have a student who's a pastry chef, and she sent me this outstanding bread pudding recipe today. It got me thinking about bread pudding again, in all of its permutations. In the mid '90s I was working in the kitchen at a certain restaurant in NYC; and over that holiday season we must have turned out easily a thousand of the restaurant's signature bread puddings. The "myth of authenticity" was that the bread pudding recipe had come directly from the sous chef's Italian grandmother; but after quite a lot of drinks at the bar one night, the sous chef confessed to me that it wasn't his grandmother's recipe at all. He explained that when the restaurant first opened, the chefs all agreed that they wanted bread pudding on the menu, but, as often happened, no one could agree on how they wanted it to taste. They tested and re-tested recipes without reaching any consensus, until finally the sous chef came in one day and said "this is the bread pudding you have to try -- its my grandmother's recipe." Then he handed them a plate of the exact same fabulous bread pudding he had been feeding them for weeks, and the chefs all emphatically agreed that "grandma's" recipe was the authentic version they had been searching for all along.
For me, "the sous chef's grandmother's recipe" is still the bread pudding I love most -- full of chocolate and raisins and cinnamon, and served warm in a big towering hunk of fluffy melting goodness. But this caramel apple version is fantastic too. I'll be making it for sure.

3 eggs and 2 yolks
10 ½ oz. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cinnamon
2 ½ oz. butter melted
9 oz. milk
9 oz. heavy cream
4 oz. raisins (soaked with rum or brandy at least 4 hours or overnight)
5 cups bread

(Caramel Apple mixture (optional) See below

Butter a medium baking dish
Cut the bread into cubes about 1 ½ inches big and toss with the raisins and any leftover liquor
Combine the milk and cream
Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolks together then stir in the sugar, vanilla and spices.
Whisk the milk mixture into the eggs slowly trying not to create a lot of foam.
Whisk the melted butter into the above mixture.
Pour the custard over the bread and press down to submerge the bread.
Cover the pudding with plastic wrap and let soak overnight. You can place a dish on top of the plastic to keep the bread under the custard.
Preheat the oven to 325˚ and bake the bread pudding until it puffs up a little and is set in the center. Do not over bake it. Serve warm.

My student Susan writes:
I like to cook sugar to a caramel and pour it into the baking dish then I saute apple wedges in butter and sugar and line the bottom of the baking dish with them. If I do it this way I soak the bread in a separate container and pour it on top of the caramel and apples right before I bake it.


  1. Do you know the sous chef's recipe??? the big chunks of chocolate*, golden raisins and cinnamon is the simple and amazing bread pudding recipe I've been looking for!! I'm in college and I am never at home in nyc to get the one you're probably talking about, so I would love to make it (or one VERY similar) at school for myself. can you help me out?

  2. Hi Sasha,
    Absolutely. The recipe printed here is very close. I would just increase the raisins by another ounce or two and add an equal amount of chocolate chunks. If you pack the bread pudding into a deep dish, you can cut it into tall chunky pieces like they would in a restaurant. Changing the size of the dish may change the baking time a little bit. After you've made it once, you'll get the sense of whether you think it should have more cinnamon, etc. Be sure to serve it warm, dusted with confectioner's sugar on top, and real whipped cream on the side. Have fun! Let me know how it turns out.

  3. will do!! thanks a lot :)

  4. Perhaps we should add to all our recipe "grandmother's secret recipe" or so. ;-)

    Thank you for your participation in SHF.

  5. we all like it when a recipe comes from an old italian grandma! ;-)))
    I have to try this recipe one day, for sure!

  6. This looks fabulous! Bread pudding is a real weakness of mine...


  7. My mouth is watering on reading this recipe! Thanks for sharing.