Real Holiday Food: Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

by Anne Bennett on November 29, 2009

Daughter Lizzie flew home to Kansas for the Thanksgiving holiday directly from Barcelona, where she had spent the previous week working.  When she arrived home she was weary from traveling and requested some comfort food: specifically, bread pudding. As this has not been a regular staple in my culinary repertoire, I sought out a pudding that would fit my standards for delicious, real food with a healthy bent. I’ve quoted Julia Child before on this subject: if it doesn’t taste good, don’t eat it. There has to be a happy medium between healthy and delicious.

This recipe, which hails from Cooking Light, is the find of the season. I’ve made it twice, the first time for Lizzie, the second time in a larger batch for Thanksgiving because we loved it so. After some minor changes to the original (I added cinnamon to the pudding mixture and pecans on top) we all pronounced it a total comfort-food winner. What’s not to love about bready pudding with warm bourbon sauce on top?  On Thanksgiving, I opted out on the store-bought pumpkin pie that a friend brought and had this instead. Let me tell you, I didn’t miss the pumpkin. Not one bit.



2 T. unsalted butter, softened
4 cups fat-free milk
9 cups French bread*, cut into 1/2 ” cubes and dried
2 cups sugar
1 t. cinnamon
2 t. vanilla
4 egg whites
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

(* I used a French Farm Bread, which has a hard crust and is slightly sour. Its sourness was a delicious contrast to the sweetness of the pudding. Any French bread will do, though. Cut it into cubes and put it on a large cookie sheet to dry out overnight or in a warm oven for a half hour or so.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread soft butter onto bottom and sides of a 9″ by 13″ inch baking dish. (Optional, you can also just spray the pan with nonstick spray.)

Heat milk in a saucepan until about 180 degrees, or until tiny bubbles form on the edge. Do not boil. Place dried bread cubes into a large bowl and pour hot milk over bread.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, egg whites and egg . Slowly add this to the bread and milk mixture, stirring as you pour it in. Stir in raisins.

Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle pecans on top. Place dish into a large roasting pan and add hot water to the larger pan to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Bake for 50 minutes or until browned and set.

Bourbon Sauce

3/4 cup sugar
6 T. butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup bourbon

Combine sugar, butter and egg in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook 4 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 165 degrees and mixture is thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon.

Serves: 16 (1/2 cup bread pudding and 1 T. sauce)

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Linda November 30, 2009 at 6:48 am

Oh, my gosh. I do believe we have a winner!

El Gato November 30, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Great recipe! Two claws up! PS – I belong outside and I am fine with all weather conditions. Don’t worry about me… I’m an outdoor cat!

El Gato December 1, 2009 at 9:47 am

Hey, wait, i didnt type that statement about being fine outdoors. I love the indoors, being close to a roaring fire, having 2 poodles to play and romp around with. I make an excellent lap cat. I am also good at catching mice that don’t belong in the house.
Also 2 paws up for the thanksgiving day turkey.

Lorrie Nelson December 6, 2009 at 11:44 am

Hey Anne, I made this last evening and it was a hit with husband and son and sons friend. I substituted Maple Syrup for the bourbon and whoa, baby! it was gooooood. I think next time I will cut down on the amount of sugar in topping and leave off the pecans as you don’t notice them on there. Also, Son requested substituting raisins with Blueberries as that’s what he thought he was eating at first. This pudding may be the “death” of me…sooo wonderful!
P.S. the secret is in the bread, as you may already know.

Christine December 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm

We made this with the French version of gingerbread and I almost left off the bourbon sauce…do NOT do that. I also added a little ginger syrup to some creme fraiche and added that to add a layer that wasn’t quite so sweet.
Love it. Thank you for the inspiration and a great recipe!

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