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Ultimate Bread Pudding Medium..

Planning a bread pudding for company and would like to maybe add in some apples or pears (it will be a fall dessert). But I can't decide on the "bread" part. My family really likes decadence and rich desserts, so I have no problem using the most caloric and unhealthy ingredients, as long as they will be delicious. So ,what would you use for making the most delicious bread pudding? Brioche?
Croissants?
Doughnuts?
Challah?
Other?
Thanks in advance!

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  1. For most delicious I would use croissants, but that's ridiculously expensive unless you have lots of stale croissants sitting around. Brioch or challah are fine, but I prefer the cheap "French bread" you can find at supermarkets that have their own bakeries. It has a bit of crust but the interior is relatively soft and it doesn't taste like much by itself. Avoid dense, crusty artisan breads such as pugliese or ciabatta, and don't even think about sourdough. Whatever you use, make sure it is completely dry. If the bread is not dried out, bake at very low temp (like 175F) for 20-30 minutes or until the bread crumbles when you squeeze it.

    Doughnuts? Sounds crazy, but try it and let us know.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Zeldog

      I adore bread pudding, and have made it with doughnuts...wasn't my favorite. The doughnuts tend to just get crumbly when mixed into the wet ingredients, the overall product is very sweet, with not much texture.

      1. re: critter101

        If you use donuts, I'd use cake only, and naturally, you'd cut down the sugar used in the custard portion.

        1. re: gordeaux

          The cafeteria at school used donuts and made a very good bread pudding from it.

    2. cake donuts - not crazy at all. how does it sound crazy? It makes PERFECT sense.
      I've done chocolate iced cake donuts before. Use a combo of breads, it does not have to be all the same. My one piece of advice is: Ample soak time. Also, depending on what flavors you are going to go for, Mccormick makes a flavoring called "butternut extract" which is absolutely perfect for bread pudding.

      Lotta air in a good croissant, you'll probably need more than you might think. $$

      1. How about using a sour cream/butter cake?

        Note: I have not made it.

        1. Bread pudding is not about the bread, it's about the blending of flavors and textures. The qualify and quantity of your custard will have a greater impact than the bread you use. But of those you listed, I'd select the Challah. Other? Perhaps Artos (Greek Celebration Bread) would bring it up a notch. I think the bread you use should be egg based to enhance the richness of the dessert.

          1. I like to use croissants, but when the store was out of them, I picked up a pound cake and had rave reviews using that.

            1. I think it's open ended. I've used pumpkin bread and it's been great.

              7 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                I second the pumpkin bread - or gingerbread or spice cake or spice (cake-style)donuts. Good match with apples or pears. You won't need much sweetening....just keep in mind that you only need to sweeten the custard. My improvised holiday bread pudding is pumpkin eggnog, pumpkin spice cake, and egg. I did this when I had stale cake and Hood's pumpkin eggnog that was going to sour before it got finished. That has now become a standard winter treat.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Gingerbread with pear. You've just come up with one of my Thanksgiving desserts. Thanks!

                  1. re: chowser

                    One of my all time fave desserts was gingerbread topped with creme anglaise and brown sugar, then broiled or bruleéd and served with spiced, poached pears. The ultimate autumn dessert!! adam

                    1. re: adamshoe

                      That makes my mouth water. I have to try it that way, too. I considered baking pears into the gingerbread but on top sounds good. I have a few months to play with gingerbread desserts. Creme anglaise, or maybe creme fraiche to counter the sweetness.

                    2. re: chowser

                      How about some hermits or great, big molasses cookies and apple chunks?

                      1. re: yayadave

                        In bread pudding? In addition to bread chunks or instead of bread chunks?

                        1. re: chowser

                          I was thinking "in stead." Might be a little rich and have a soft texture. If you used hermits, you would not have to add raisins. ( ) That's where a smiley face goes.

                2. Start with a pile of cinnamon rolls . . . .

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: puzzler

                    Or danishes. You end up with lovely little pockets of fruit filling. The restaurant DH works at used to make bread pudding out of all the leftover breakfast pastries: danish, cinnamon rolls, croissant, chocolate buns. Mmmm

                    1. re: Sooeygun

                      That's right up my alley right there. Yum.

                      1. re: Sooeygun

                        oh boy cinnamon rolls sounds great. has anyone tried this?

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          I've never been, but there is a restaurant, Pogo's II (as in 2), in Halifax, MA, that makes all sorts of baked goods, including a big cinnamon roll, into French Toast. Danish, cornbread, croissants, you name it, they French it. If you can make something into French toast, you can make it into bread pudding.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            hm, good point.

                          2. re: hungryabbey

                            Nope, but I've used apricot kolaches that were going stale, and it was absolutely delicious. The texture of my kolaches is very similar to that of my cinnamon rolls. I imagine it would be delicious.

                            1. re: modthyrth

                              Kolaches, yum! I never thought of that before. Great idea!

                            2. re: hungryabbey

                              Cinnamon rolls are my favorite "bread" for bread pudding. Day old and un-frosted work best.

                        2. I just like the simple staled out french bread version... served warm with a little pecan praline bourbon sauce on top.....

                          Be sure to check the bourbon before you make your sauce ;)

                          1. Challah all the way. And here's a recipe for my most favorite: Chocolate Bread Pudding with Bourbon Pecan Caramel Sauce:

                            http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                            1. For a really delicious pudding at holiday time, I've used Italian panettone with citron and raisins...yum!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: critter101

                                I second the panettone suggestion.

                              2. Chocolate Babka for the bread. I've made this with a vanilla custard base (chocolate would compete with the chocolate in the Babka). It was decadent, rich, over-the-top. Just what you are looking for.

                                1. If you're going to do a test run before your company arrives, go ahead and try these wacky suggestions. I bet they could be great.

                                  However, if you won't have time to make a test batch, I'd stick with the tried-and-true brioche or challah.

                                  1. So many great suggestions.. so hard to decide!! I do like the idea of gingerbread with pear.. but it might seem a bit too "christmasy" for my event. Does anyone have any specific recipes they have tried using some of these breads/pastries?

                                    1. I worked @ a Creole restaurant that used brioche for the bread pudding-scrumptious!! Second choice would be challah or babka. It IS more about the custard and add-ins versus the bread. Just don't use sourdough!! adam

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: adamshoe

                                        Did you ever try croissant? I see everyone saying it will take a lot of them but I just read a recipe by Ina Garten tht only called for 6 and got amazing reviews.. but 6 really doesnt seem like much to me? I think I have it down to either brioche or croissant.

                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                          I have used some croissants from Costco. I split them and it did not take too many. Chubby li'l devils.

                                      2. pannetone (sp?) in winter when it's available. Otherwise challah or french bread.

                                        1. this got me super obsessed for a bread pudding. i think i'm going to make one with a chocolate loaded chocolate babka and some brioche thrown in... so the consensus is half a cup of half and half and one egg no?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: jeniyo

                                            That's the correct liquid to egg ratio, be it milk, half & half, or light cream.....or eggnog!

                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              And sometimes for more richness, I use a combination of egg yolks and whole eggs.

                                            2. re: jeniyo

                                              Good idea mixing in brioche, especially if the Babka is very heavy on the filling and light on the bread (which happened to me once making this).

                                            3. I'd think donuts would just be greasy... challah bread is really yummy in bread pudding.

                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: Kajikit

                                                thats what I was worried about.

                                                1. re: hungryabbey

                                                  I'm sure that a certain silver haired, female, southern chef has a recipe for a donut bread pudding made with lard and butter and then deep fried in 40 weight motor oil ;) adam
                                                  P.S. Or perhaps it's made with twinkies as the base....

                                                  1. re: adamshoe

                                                    I think this is the standard recipe. It really looks heart-healthy.
                                                    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/pa...

                                                  2. re: hungryabbey

                                                    Raised or cake donut yes, fried donut no - unless your name is Paula.

                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                      Raised and cake donuts are all fried. But I do agree that raised donuts should work. Cake donuts - not so much. It's not greasiness that will be the problem; IMO it's density and structure.

                                                      Bread pudding needs a somewhat open crumb to soak up the custard but also to keep the basic structure light. A cake donut, like a pound cake, is pretty dense in comparison. I have a feeling it will either dissolve into a goopy mass when soaked, or turn to lead.

                                                      1. re: sbp

                                                        Would the croissant be okay then? or would it dissolve?

                                                        1. re: hungryabbey

                                                          I suspect (I haven't tried it) a croissant would either dissolve or be greasy. Most bread pudding start with very yeasty bread, with big holes, somewhat chewy. Think challah, brioche, french bread. I think that's because they act as a sponge better than, say, a pound cake (where, I would suspect, the actual granules of cake are absorbing liquid, rather than the air pockets around them), and don't fall apart as easily. Croissants are one step away from phyllo dough. It's all about flakiness, not airiness. I think of the airiness in a croissant as like the air that gets trapped between layers of clothing. Lots of flat sheets with air in between. Not like a sponge, composed of bubbles.

                                                          1. re: sbp

                                                            I have to disagree. I've had bread pudding made with croissants and they don't dissolve or get too greasy. It's really delicious.

                                                            1. re: Sooeygun

                                                              I agree, croissant bread pudding is excellent.

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                I yield -- like I said, I hadn't tried it. My assumption was primarily because they aren't "fluffy" to begin with.

                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                  glad to hear this... Sbp, I was thinking like you too. I was consulting my food science books (ha, really overthinking this). But I guess experience is king in this instance and I do love croissants, so I think I will attempt it.

                                                          2. re: sbp

                                                            I have a favorite recipe from a (now closed) famous L.A. restaurant that uses cake donuts & it is wonderful. They do dissolve a tiny bit but the flavor is delicious. I let them get a little stale first.

                                                            1. re: sparkareno

                                                              sparkareno, could you post your cake donut brad pudding recipe? Thanks.

                                                    2. Fifty years ago my Mom used to make the best bread pudding using store bought coffee rings from the day old rack. I have had many bread puddings since then but none as good as what she used to make.

                                                      1. I used to work in the kitchen at a large High School in Southern California. The baker would use leftover cinnamon rolls from the day before to make the most luscious bread pudding I have ever had so I KNOW cinnamon rolls make a great base. What I can't duplicate is the heavy layer of custard that formed on the bottom of the bread layer, which managed to firm up just fine. It baked up much like the old Lemon Pudding Cakes used to. I was never given the recipe, I've just experimented and managed to come close to the bread pudding part, Anyone have any suggestions?

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: myk7753

                                                          Try doubling the amount of the custard batter. Then soak the cinnamon rolls overnight in half of it, then in the morning (or whenever), pour the remaining batter in a dish, and spread soaked rolls over the top and bake...

                                                          1. re: myk7753

                                                            I think I have decided to try cinnamon rolls. Do you break them up first or just put them all in whole?

                                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                                              I cut them into chunks just like I do any other bread for bread pudding, but I guess leaving them whole would work too.

                                                              1. re: smarsh

                                                                ok thanks, perfect.

                                                          2. We just made a great one using Sardinian flatbread (pane carasau) and Nutella. I'm sure that any kind of flatbread with a bit of thickness would do. It absorbed the liquid very well on the bottom layers and the top was nice and crispy.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: robynschwartz

                                                              I wonder if dryed out pita bread would work...

                                                            2. cinnamon raisin bread toasted or brioche are good choices

                                                              1. As long as there's no raisins and you don't skimp on the bourbon hard sauce. Almost anything could work if it has the right texture.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Blueayez

                                                                  If you use croissants, try sprinkling choc. chips between the halves before you add the custard and bake...also maybe try a savory pudding, with cornbread and some serious sharp cheddar, maybe a sprinkle of chopped jalapeno....

                                                                  1. re: Blueayez

                                                                    Blueayez brings up a good point with "right texture." That is a very individual choice. There's no "wrong" in texture. If you use baguettes with the crust on, you'll get a course texture. If you use any of the egg breads, you'll get a soft, mushy texture. How rich it is will depend on the add-ins you use and how rich your custard is.

                                                                  2. If you can locate it on sale as day old, I'd use brioche or challah.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Kelli2006

                                                                      Ditto.

                                                                    2. Ok, so I'm more on the "common" end of bread pudding mediums. . . I throw whatever leftover breads into the freezer and make mine from whatever I have at the time. Baguettes, hot dog buns, scones, etc. I soak and stir mine in the custard (milk/cream, sugar, vanilla & cinnamon) for a couple of hours until the bread pretty much breaks down but not completely dissolved and then bake at 300F. It's very dense and heavy but I've had people who swear they hate bread pudding rave about mine. I serve it with a brandy hard sauce the way I grew up on it.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: mray

                                                                        i just made mine with a old loaf of brioche with caramel sauce. it was yummy.

                                                                        i agree, i think any bread will do, and this reminds me, i got some old hawaiian buns leftover from a gathering

                                                                      2. I made a variation of this yesterday for a birthday party, and it went over really well.

                                                                        http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...

                                                                        I subbed brioche for the raisin bread, used about 2 1/2 cups fresh Macouns for the apples and eliminated the dried apples, and added a teas. vanilla extract. The brioche, cider and heavy cream combined to make a silky texture and the apple complemented nicely. Served it warm with Dorie Greenspan's caramel sauce because I wasn't sure the extended family would appreciated the hard cider sauce. Great combo.