Brandy Bread Pudding

My love affair with bread pudding started when I was just a child – at a truck stop. It was one of my favorite places to go with my Dad when I was young.  Sadly, it no longer stands at the corner of Huntoon and Wannamaker.  Today there is an Old Chicago, a Buffalo Wild Wings, and an On The Boarder sitting where my beloved truck stop use to exist. I imagine the truck stop had an official name, but I never took the time to learn it. All I know is that every now and then Dad would take my sister and me to a place that made me feel like a tiny creature amongst giants for breakfast or lunch and I LOVED IT. The waitresses always call us “Honey”, “Doll” or “Sweetie”.  The majority of the clientele were large harry men with crazy beards, ball caps, and shirts with the sleeves torn off. And man-oh-man did they have the most incredible bread pudding.

To this day I believe the bread pudding served to me there at that truck stop is my favorite bread pudding I’ve ever had.  And I’ve had plenty.  It’s one of my favorite desserts to try when eating at a nice restaurant.  Some that stand out are the White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Roasted Pineapple, flambéed tableside with rum at Pierpont’s, the rich and addictive bread pudding at Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen, and of course the Peachtree‘s bread pudding, complete with raisins and a creamy vanilla frosting.

Oddly enough though, there was just something special about the bread pudding served at the humble truck stop in Topeka.  It was simple. It was custardy. It was pillowy soft.  It was so delicious that by the time you finished eating the spice-glazed dessert you had completely forgotten that it was made out of old, stale, boring bread.  Perhaps it’s nostalgia – or maybe it was truly the best.

Years ago I started a new tradition in our family.  Every Christmas night I make bread pudding for our dessert.  And it is awesome.  My dad and I took a look at a handful of recipes, trying to find one that best represented what we both love in bread pudding.  We selected a few, did some taste tests, made a modification here and there, and now have what we believe to be the best homemade bread pudding recipe ever created (if we do say so ourselves).

If you like bread pudding and appreciate the simplicity of it, you should try this recipe. I hope you’ll agree that it is truly wonderful.

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Brandy Bread Pudding

If you are a fan of brandy, you are in luck! The brandy sauce that’s created while this bread pudding bakes is quite distinct and packs a flavor punch you’ll love.  However, if you are not so fond of brandy, you may want to consider reducing the amount of alcohol used in this recipe, or skip it all together.  If you’re worried about having alcohol in a dessert, you can always use brandy flavored extract (3 TBSP be perfect).  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs of cubed, stale bread
  • 4 c scalded milk
  • 1/2 lb butter (2 sticks or 1 cup)
  • 2/3 c brandy plus more for soaking raisins (or 3 TBSP brandy extract)
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 c white sugar
  • 1/2 TBSP grated nutmeg
  • 2 TBSP vanilla
  • 1/2 c raisins, soaked overnight in brandy (if using extract, just soak the raisins in water)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9×13 baking pan and set aside.
  2. Cut up bread and place in baking pan while milk and butter heat in a pot.
  3. Combine liquids, eggs, sugar, nutmeg and drained raisins (be sure to temper the eggs so that they do not scramble).
  4. Pour liquid mixture over bread. Take the time to submerge each cube completely in egg mixture to ensure a nice custardy texture.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream if you like!

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