Challah and Pear Bread Pudding

I love bread pudding. Chad loves bread pudding. Bread pudding is delicious and an excellent way to use up bread that’s too stale even for french toast. And you can’t have french toast for dessert. But I had always thought you had to put it in a water bath to bake it, and I’m lazy, so that was always way too much effort. And then I ran across an old school recipe in an old Betty Crocker cookbook. And guess what? No water bath!

That is real whipped cream on there, friends. And not the kind from a can either.

I was so onto this recipe, especially since at the time I had some not-so-great Icelandic brown bread I had baked the day before to use up, plus some leftover French bread. Well, alas the recipe called for 6 cups of cubed white bread (who measures? who cubes?) and did not say which size baking dish to use. So I used all my bread. And there was totally not enough liquid to soak it all in. So I added another egg and more milk and stuck it in the oven. Checked on it later – still to dry, so I dumped the whole thing back into the bowl and added more heavy cream mixed with brown sugar to soak it up.

Eventually it turned out pretty good (still a little dry). I’ve tried it several times since then and have finally figured out a decent recipe that uses a whole loaf of bread. Don’t you dare use pre-sliced, shelf-stable, store-bought bread for this. Especially not sliced white bread (unless it comes from the grocery store bakery and doesn’t have the consistency of Wonder Bread).

Autumn is hitting me hard these days and there is just something so deliciously warm (and autumnal) about bread pudding, especially when served with a little sweetened cream, whipped cream, or plain milk. You can eat it cold, but I love it hot. A warm caramel or nutmeg sauce would not be remiss here either if you really want to jazz it up as a dessert.

You know what the best part is about this dessert? The pears. They add a melting sweetness to the bread pudding that apples just can’t seem to replicate. You could leave out the pears, but if you do not substitute another kind of fruit, up the sugar to a full cup.

Fresh out of the oven. See the pretty little reddish bits? Those are the pears. *nom*

I made this bread pudding once when day-old challah was on sale at my local grocery store. The recipe calls for a whole loaf, but you could easily cut the recipe in half. I also make it in a slightly odd-shaped pan – an 8×11″ glass baking dish, which fits the bread pudding perfectly and makes nice tall squares. You could easily bake this in a 9×13″ pan, the bread pudding will just not be as tall.

Challah and Pear Bread Pudding

1 loaf day old challah or other hearty bread
2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup (a.k.a. 1/2 a stick, a.k.a 4 tablespoons) butter
3 large or extra large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 red pears, chopped, skin-on
1/2 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat milk and butter over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Whisk together eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a very large bowl. Tear bread into bite-sized chunks. When butter is melted, add milk mix to egg mix and stir to combine. Add break chunks, pears, and raisins and stir/fold until the bread is soaked through and the fruit evenly distributed. Pour mixture into a glass 9×13″ pan (an 8 1/2×11″ pan actually fits this recipe just perfectly) and bake uncovered 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean.

So delicious. It's best warm with lots of cold, lightly sweetened whipped cream on top.

5 Responses to “Challah and Pear Bread Pudding”
  1. That looks so, so good. In the meantime I made a batch of “rice” pudding with some cold porridge from a batch of hot cereal that turned out a little too mushy for my husband’s taste, but makes a fantastic cold treat with light cream and sugar. I got the idea from your porridge post, of course! Vintagejenta posts are enlivening the Sutton kitchen!

    • vintagejenta says:

      Oooh. I’ve thought about turning breakfast porridge into “pudding,” but haven’t tried it yet. Glad to know it’s tasty. I do sometimes have porridge with extra maple syrup or with heavy cream as a dessert or sweet snack. It’s like eating cake, only slightly better for you.

  2. Sara says:

    I have a great amaretto cream sauce that I make with bread pudding. It sounds fantastic with pears, though I may try with apples, just cause I like them better. 🙂

  3. Justine says:

    This recipe is great! I recently made this and everyone ate it up (yes everyone wanted 2nd servings)! I cut up the challah into cubes rather than just tear it. Also since I don’t too much enjoy raisins, I put walnut pieces and that made it so great cause it added crunch. Also who doesn’t love nuts? I served the bread pudding with some french vanilla ice-cream just to make it even better! Hope this useful! 🙂

    • vintagejenta says:

      Hello, Justine. I’m so glad you liked it! I make challah bread pudding often, usually with pears, but sometimes just with raisins (the boyfriend likes it best with raisins). I’m not personally a fan of walnuts, but I’ve thought about making it with pecans before, which I love. And maybe this summer I will make it with fresh berries?

      Vanilla ice cream is fantastic, but we like it best with plain light cream. Heavy cream is my boyfriend’s favorite, whole milk is mine, we compromise with light cream. Lol. In fact, our dairy farmer ancestry means that we like to put cream or milk on just about everything, but especially cake of any kind, bread pudding, and fresh or cooked sugared fruit.

      You can use this same recipe with any other kind of bread, too, although you will get slightly different results. I even made it once with very heavy limpa bread (Swedish rye bread with orange flavoring) with mandarin oranges and chocolate chips. It was far better than the bread itself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: