3-Berry Summer Bread Pudding

Debra Hempe shares a delicious bread pudding recipe that features a blend of three seasonal summer berries: strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

I was raised in Manhattan and when I hear the words Cream puff, éclair or cannoli mentioned, I know exactly what I am about to dive into, and that I will be smiling when I resurface. I didn’t grow up with bread pudding and had for decades ignored it on menus, opting to skip dessert rather than try what I perceived to be a bland, flavorless dessert with a consistency that had to be suspect. I discovered the error of my ways while on a trip to New Orleans. My husband and I were having dinner at a well known restaurant, and we began chatting with our server about our love of regional authentic food. He explained to us that their bread pudding was a local favorite, not to be missed. The twinkle in his eye and his enthusiasm were so great, we had to share a serving just to try it. This was not a new taste treat for my husband, and he smiled knowingly when I remarked that I'd "just try one bite." The dessert arrived, a sweet blend of bread, raisins, brandy, vanilla and cinnamon baked in a creamy rich pudding that was as delicious as it was aromatic. I was amazed at how wrong I'd been; I admonished myself between bites for letting my preconceived notion (just based on a name!) stand in the way of discovering a new taste treat. Since then, I have learned to make my own bread pudding, and I've developed a few favorite versions that everyone seems to consistently enjoy. I love using apples, raisins and brandy in the fall, but for this summer version I use seasonal summer berries. I'm only sorry I waited till I was in my forties to try it. I hope you will all enjoy this recipe and perhaps try something new. It might surprise you!

3-Berry Bread Pudding Recipe

Colander of Strawberries You will need:
  • enough butter to grease your baking dish
  • 3-4 cups stale bread (cubed)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup + (½ tsp for the fruit) light brown sugar
  • 1 ½  tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ½ of a vanilla bean (scrape out the paste inside the bean)
  • 2 cups of berries (I used strawberries, blueberries & blackberries)
  • zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs ground or slivered almonds

1. In a baking dish:

  • Coat dish with butter as you would for a cake pan (mine was about 9X9)
  • Lay the stale bread evenly across the bottom

2. In a separate bowl:

  • Add lemon zest, lemon juice & ½ tsp sugar to berries
  • Stir to combine (set aside)

3. For the pudding:

  • Lightly whisk 4 eggs
  • Add the milk & extracts
  • Add the scraped paste from the vanilla bean
  • Add brown sugar
  • Stir well till sugar is dissolved

4. Putting it together:

  • Sprinkle the fruit evenly over the bread
  • Sprinkle a little ground almond over the fruit
  • Gently & evenly pour the batter over bread & fruit

Make sure you submerge all the bread and fruit. Let it soak in the batter for a few minutes while you heat the oven to 350 degrees.

5. Place the baking dish in a Bain-Marie:

Take your roasting pan and place your baking dish in it. Fill the roasting pan with warm water till it is about halfway up side of your baking dish (this will keep the pudding cooking evenly with a rich, creamy consistency). Cover the pudding with tin foil and cut slits in the foil for the steam to escape.

    • Place carefully in the oven
    • Cook about 50 minutes, till pudding firms up
    • Remove foil for the last 10 minutes
Serve with warm, homemade caramel sauce drizzled over the top! — Debra Hempe of Smart Cooking dessert

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