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Bread Pudding

What is the best kind of bread to use to make bread pudding? And is it supposed to be fresh or stale?

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  1. I like a heavier white bread, and dry it a bit. I don't really use "stale" bread, because of the taste.

    1. im using challah for mine this year. chopping it into cubes the night before so it can dry out some!

      1. My preference is Brioche, and I prefer it to be a few days old but not "stale".
        Challah would be my second choice.

        1. Crusty sourdough is my first choice.

          After having made many many iterations of bread pudding, I find that whether you use fresh or day-old, or 1-week old rock hard stale bread, it matters little in the end.

          1. Which is your priority? Making bread pudding? or using stale bread?

            Stale bread is commonly used for bread pudding - why? Because bread pudding is a good way of using it.

            Also why kind of bread pudding do you want? It can be very custardy, or it can be like a sweet stuffing, or anywhere in between.

            2 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              Also why kind of bread pudding do you want? It can be very custardy, or it can be like a sweet stuffing, or anywhere in between

              I would like it NOT too sweet so it doesn't taste like candy.

            2. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I'll use day-old challah or brioche. Plain white bread in the recipe I had souned, well, plain.

              1. Have made bread pudding with everything from cheap "French" bread to completely dried-out Danlish rolls, and have at times thrown in a little Wonder Bread-type stuff if I needed to stretch things out a little. If your bread or bread equivalent is really dry, you'll need more liquid and I'd let the bread-liquid mixture set a while before baking. I suppose there is such a thing as letting it sit too long, but I haven't come across it yet.

                And "plain white bread" does quite well; the pudding will be quite tender, but you can offset that plainness with added fruit, flavoring (brandy, rum, grated orange peel, your choice) and making the liquid richer, either using more eggs or richer milk. That can mean using your usual 1% milk but subbing a half cup of cream for an equivalent amount of milk, of course. Bread puddings are incredibly flexible, and you shouldn't be intimidated. The zillion recipes out there should show you just how many variations there are.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lemons

                  lemons, thanks taking the time for your tips. Seems I can use all kinds of white bread even
                  the ubiquitous "French" bread. Now I have a use for it.
                  thanks again.

                2. I'd say you can basically use any type of bread you want ... whatever's available or needs to be used quickly is generally a good choice. Different breads will lend different flavors, of course ... brioche will give a sweeter flavor, since it is naturally a sweet bread ... sourdough has its own distinct flavor, and it will lend some of that to the bread pudding. The recipe that I like to use calls for brioche and is designed somewhat as a dessert ... I however do not generally have brioche on hand to cube and put in bread putting, so my solution was to just grab a loaf of white bread (generally it's just a typical white italian bread, though sometimes it's a hearty white bread) and tear up a couple slices until I have about the right about and continue on with the recipe as it calls for items. I eat it as a breakfast or brunch style food. I don't always have the cream for it either, so I will sometimes use whole milk in place of it. Bread pudding is pretty forgiving, and there are so many varieties, that it's hard to say what is "supposed" to be used or what is "best." A lot of it is going to be personal preferences.

                  Just try it with what's handy, and adjust as you see fit from there.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MilkAndCookies

                    Brioche is also butter rich, adding to the richness of the pudding.

                    Panetone, the Italian Christmas bread, also makes a good festive bread pudding.

                    Mexican capirotada, a bread pudding that is moistened with a brown sugar syrup rather than an egg custard, is supposedly best with the rolls used for tortas (Mexican panini). But I suspect that has more to do with what is commonly available.

                    By the way, cuisines that depend on a basic white bread that stales rapidly (French, Italian, Spanish) have many ways of using left over bread, including the French 'lost-bread' (French Toast), puddings, Spanish migas (crumbs), Italian bread salads, and of course bread thickened soups.

                    1. re: paulj

                      I was JUST about to suggest Panetone when I saw your post-it is THE best for this bread pudding purpose...but is less a last minute pudding addition than a plan-ahead-hoarding exercise in our house-I have taken to making 2 panetone at a time expressly for this purpose-one to eat and one to cut up and stash in 10 freezer bags for puddings yet-to-be.

                      In Puglia (southern Italy) there is a wonderful dish made with scraps of leftover, rock-hard local bread...they are treated to a quick bath in hot water, then squeezedby gentle hands to remove the water, mixed with egg, grated peccorino (sheep's milk cheese),oregano, s &p, shaped into 'eggs' and quickly fried in olive oil to a golden crispness. They are generally served with lots of last night's tomato-based sauce and a rapini side-dish.

                      I have done this adding bits of cooked shrimp or clams as well with leftover zuppa de pesce as the sauce.

                      Those Italians know how to stretch a loaf of bread.

                  2. This was the subject of America's Test Kitchen yesterday. They chose challah as the best bread and went into the difference between stale and dried. When bread stales, the water is trapped via crystallization of starches. When heated, the water is freed again and can make things soggy. So instead, they recommend low-temp oven drying of cubed challah.

                    They rejected French and Italian breads, soft white breads (needless to say), and croissants.
                    The last were too greasy in bread pudding, which I can imagine might happen with brioche as well.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: greygarious

                      challah sounds like the winner, greygarious...
                      when you say : " So instead, they recommend low-temp oven drying of cubed challah. "
                      did they mean to dry the cubed challah before making the pudding or is that the recommendation of baking the pudding ?

                      1. re: sylvan

                        To dry the challah before it goes into the bread pudding ... so it will absorb up the goodies better, I would presume.

                        1. re: MilkAndCookies

                          You are correct - also, they used just yolks, since the sulfur that can make a custard too "eggy" tasting is exclusively in the whites. As the oven-dried cubes soaked in a 9x13 pan of custard, they periodically pressed lightly on the topmost crumbs so they would absorb enough liquid (30 minutes, I think). The whole recipe should be available when you register for free on their website, since it is one of this season's shows. Registering is not the same as signing up for a trial membership.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            grey, just a bit confused. ATK said that the part of the egg that made a custard 'too eggy tasting' was in the whites? that's fascinating. i always thought 'eggy' was the deeper yolk flavor.....

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              It's true - the sulfur is in the white. You can test this yourself. Make a hard-cooked egg. Cut in half. Separate yolk from whites and do a blind sniff test. It's the sulfur that makes some custards too eggy.

                      2. re: greygarious

                        well , i disagree yet again with Kimball's folk. Oven dried (i agree w/ them on this method) cubed croissants make tremendous bread pudding, imo. Def one of my most successful recipes.
                        'Greasy' is an irrelevant descriptor because the butterfat is absorbed into the egg and cream component and also adds to the crunchiness of the top of the dish.

                      3. The other factor in here with the croissants or other rich bread vs the plain stuff is how rich the milk is that you're using. If I'm using a really rich bread, I cut back on the fattiness of the milk/cream liquid. It is possible (yeah, I can see the hands now, waving to say "No, it's not") to have bread pudding that's too rich, at least for some folks' palate.

                        And another variant: The English bread-and-butter pudding which butters the bread before putting it in the dish and adding the custard. (Which, of course, is what that egg and milk make).

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lemons

                          ha! <hands waving>!!
                          and just think, for some, when it's too rich, they just 'cut it' w/ ice cream!!!
                          aren't americans justly notorious for that line of thinking?:
                          whipped cream on an iced cream sundae??(good name for a rock band, as dave barry used to say.)

                        2. I am in the camp of using stale bread. I made bread pudding just last weekend. I had frozen some large sub rolls, and knew I was not going to use them, but HATE to throw food away, so I let them thaw out and made a bread pudding, served with warm lemon sauce. My grandmother used to make this for us all the time. Tasted so good, and brings back great memories.

                          1. If you have a Jimmy John's Deli available locally, they sell their day old loaves for 45 cents, and they make superb bread pudding...just made a dried cherry batch a couple days ago!

                            1. The best bread pudding I ever had contained a mix of stale breads in a butter rich custard...challah, sourdough, kaiser rolls, semolina bread, and even a bit of light unseeded rye. No crusts cut off, either.
                              I don't eat bread pudding very often but when I do, I want it to be _rich_...so the butter really needs to make it's presence known in there, as well as the whole thing being held together in custard rich with honey (and definitely some raisins).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: The Professor

                                And, shocking as it seems, whipped cream, especially if it's unsweetened or just barely sweetened, actually cuts the richness some.

                              2. More on the Mexican version of bread pudding, capirotada


                                1. Challah or raisin bread are wonderful. But you can use anything you've got, as long as it's white. Wheat bread makes a really strange-tasting pudding.

                                  1. Make sure it is extra runny.

                                    1. brioche for sure

                                      i generally want it 1-2 days old, take off all the crusts then place it on a cookie rack to "dry out" so it has a firm texture and turn them a few times over a day or half a day so all sides get equal oxygen

                                      if you dont have time to do that you can lightly toast them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes while turning them - a very light brown on the edges is what you are lookign for