Does a plate of warm, soft, lightly cinnamon-enhanced custard sitting atop a pool of rich caramel sauce sound good to you? If so, then you are going to LOVE this easy and insanely drool-worthy, Miraculous Creme Caramel Bread Pudding. It's crazy good and my mom's absolute favorite!!
All bread puddings perform a sort of magic, miraculously using just a few basic ingredients to transform stale, dry bread into a luscious custard that rivals the fanciest, most intricately prepared desserts. With this bread pudding however, you get 2 miracles, folks! Yes, that's right, I said two!! Not only is bread metamorphosized here, but a caramel sauce magically forms in the bottom of the pan as the pudding bakes! One bite will have you convinced that there is truly something of the divine at work! You start by spreading a layer of brown sugar in the bottom of the baking dish.
You top that with cubed, crustless, challah--
And then an egg/milk/cream/cinnamon/vanilla batter which you let soak into the challah for about 30 minutes before baking.
The whole thing gets cooked in a water bath, transforming into a crusty topped casserole with a soft pudding-like vanilla/cinnamon center and a layer of caramel beneath that. If you've never experienced the magic of bread pudding, you will be awe-struck! And no, this is not low-calorie or particularly good for you, but I swear it is worth an extra mile or two on the treadmill! C'mon, we're talking caramel puddles here!
Miraculous Creme Caramel Bread Pudding
Prep Time: 10 minutes to put together, plus 30 minutes for bread to stand and absorb liquid; Bake Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes, plus 20 minutes cooling in water bath before serving.
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
4 1/2 cups crustless challah or brioche, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
7 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches of salt
At least 15 large ice cubes
1. Place the brown sugar in the bottom of an 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish and spread it out evenly. Top it with the cubed bread, spreading them out evenly too. In a large bowl, whisk together well the eggs, heavy cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Slowly pour the mixture through a sieve over the cubed bread in the dish. Push the cubed bread down into the liquid. Let sit for 30 minutes, allowing the bread to absorb the liquid, pushing gently down every now and then.
2. Make sure the rack is in the center of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Place the baking dish into a large roasting pan and place into the oven. Using a kettle or pitcher, pour enough lukewarm water into the roasting pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the baking dish--this is known as a water bath and it helps the pudding from not getting dried out. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, adding 3-4 ice cubes to the water in the larger pan every 15 minutes or so to keep the water from boiling and changing the texture of the pudding.
3. Pudding is done when the top appears golden brown and a butter knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the whole thing from the oven and let the pudding sit in the water for 20 more minutes.
4. Spoon the pudding into bowls and top with the caramel sauce that forms on the bottom. You can serve this warm or at room temperature--it's great both ways.
5. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from an old issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.