Never have I ever met anyone who doesn't love bread, so why not turn it into dessert!? This is the Best Easy Vanilla Bread Pudding recipe - you need only 8 ingredients and 15 minutes of active work to make this warm, comforting dessert. The bread pudding is soft, moist, perfectly balanced in flavor without being too sweet, and served with a delicious vanilla creme anglaise. Think French toast meet custard!
WHAT IS BREAD PUDDING?
Bread pudding is a classic comfort dessert made with old bread and custard, baked to golden perfection. The beauty of bread pudding lies in its versatility - you can enjoy it plain with vanilla, enrich with spices and raisins, or make other versions with chocolate, or fruits. It can be eaten on its own, or served with a vanilla sauce (creme anglaise), ice cream, cream, caramel sauce, etc. It is a great way to rescue stale bread and make a warm, comforting dessert!
For this recipe, you need just 8 ingredients (quantities are provided in the recipe card at the end of this post):
- Day old bread - I love using King's Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Rolls for this recipe. But if it is not sold where you live, get a loaf of brioche bread instead. I recommend using a bread loaf instead of sliced bread, as you can cut the bread into chunky cubes which will give the best texture. I leave the bread out overnight so they dry out a bit, which prevents the bread pudding from becoming too mushy.
- Unsalted butter
- Egg yolks - these help make the custard more silky and rich; although I have minimized the ratio of just egg yolks to full eggs in this recipe so there's as little waste as possible
- Whole milk
- Heavy cream
- Granulated sugar
- Vanilla - I recommend using a vanilla bean paste for the best result
- Optional: Salt (but I always like to add a pinch!)
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST EASY VANILLA BREAD PUDDING
Let's go over the method now. First, check out this short video:
Here's what you need to do:
1. Prepare the bread
Pre-heat your oven to 350F (conventional) and prepare a casserole dish (ceramic or glass baking pan) by brushing it generously with butter. I used a 7x11" rectangular pan, but you can use a different one around the same size.
Now take your day old bread and cut it into large cubes (about 1.5 to 2" each). Place the cubes inside your baking dish. I find that arranging them haphazardly works best! There's no need to remove the crust.
2. Prepare the vanilla custard sauce
We will also keep this super simple. Combine all the ingredients for the custard in a nonstick saucepan, and whisk thoroughly to break down the eggs. Place on the stove on medium-low heat, and stir constantly until the butter has fully melted.
Tip: It is important not to overcook this sauce! The temptation is always there to let the sauce thicken on the stove, but remember it will cook in the oven. We just need the butter to melt and all ingredients to combine. You don't even need to wait for the sauce to come to a boil. Overcooking will give your bread pudding a scrambled consistency.
3. Assemble and bake
We're almost done already! Now it is time to pour the custard sauce over the bread in the baking dish, trying to get all of the bread pieces covered. You want the bread to be thoroughly soaked, but the custard should not rise above the surface of the bread. Reserve about 1.5 to 2 cups of the sauce.
Press down gently on the bread to ensure it gets soaked, then transfer the baking dish to the oven. Bake for about 40 minutes - the bread pudding should take on a golden color, feel set but still have a wobble when you shake it.
4. Prepare the vanilla creme anglaise
Creme Anglaise is just a fancy term for a slightly less thick custard, and is great to serve with bread pudding. The fun little trick we have up our sleeve is we will use the leftover sauce from the bread pudding, which we set aside, to make the creme anglaise! Return the sauce to the stove on low heat, and stir constantly until the sauce starts to thicken. It should coat the back of a spoon, and if you run a finger through it, it should leave behind a clean line.
Do not overcook - this is not supposed to be as thick as custard! It will be a pourable consistency similar to cream.
Remove from heat and strain the sauce to remove any lumps. And tada! You have a vanilla creme anglaise ready.
5. Serve and enjoy!
That's it! You can pour some of the creme anglaise onto the bread pudding (or not), and dust with powdered sugar. Slice up the bread pudding while it is still warm, and serve with the creme anglaise.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
While traditional recipes call for day-old or slightly stale bread to absorb the custard mixture better, fresh bread can be used. If using fresh bread, just toast it lightly in the oven until it feels like day old bread to achieve a similar texture.
Absolutely! Experiment with various bread types like brioche, challah, or even croissants for a different flavor and texture. Just keep in mind that denser bread may require a bit more time to absorb the custard.
Yes! You can spruce up this recipe in different ways. Add some cinnamon or other spices into the custard, add raisins or nuts, add chocolate chips - the world is your oyster.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When reheating, you can use the oven or microwave, but be mindful of the custard’s texture—reheating too long might dry it out. Enjoy within a few days for the best taste and texture.
Yes, you can freeze bread pudding! Ensure it’s tightly wrapped to prevent freezer burn. To reheat, thaw it in the fridge overnight and then warm it in the oven at a low temperature to maintain its moisture and deliciousness.
There are various accompaniments that complement vanilla bread pudding beautifully. Instead of the creme anglaise, consider a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel or chocolate sauce, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra indulgent touch.
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