Sunday, May 30, 2010

Recipe: Rhubarb-Raspberry Bread Pudding

It was only a couple of years ago I realized that I liked bread pudding.  Up until then, something about the name had put me off; perhaps it made me think of that oft-served school lunch staple, rice pudding (shudder). 

The first time I actually tried bread pudding was in New Orleans, at Nola.  The first bite was a revelation - a billowy, soft custard with a syrupy glaze and just a hint of crunch.  It was like nothing I'd had before, and I couldn't believe I'd gone so many years without really knowing what the dish had the potential to be.  I never looked back - I've been baking bread puddings ever since.

In the winter months, my favorite recipe is a pumpkin bread pudding with brown sugar caramel. As pumpkin isn't exactly a summer staple, I decided to give a rhubarb and orange pudding a try.  The following recipe is loosely based on this one from Bon Appetit - I was missing some of the ingredients and wanted to refrigerate overnight, so I adapted as written below.

Starting with good bread is essential.  I made my own brioche for this one, but any stale, rich bread will do.

Rhubarb-Raspberry Bread Pudding
1 cup seedless raspberry preserves
1/2 cup orange juice
2 lbs rhubarb, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup raspberries
1 tbsp orange zest
3/4 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 recipe homemade brioche cut into 1-inch pieces (or substitute a loaf of thick egg bread)

Whisk preserves and orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat.  When dissolved, add rhubarb , raspberries, and orange zest.  Cook until rhubarb is tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Pour mixture through a strainer set over a large bowl. Press on solids then allow to drain, about 15 minutes.  Reserve solids; at this point, sauce can be refrigerated.

Combine sugar, eggs, whipping cream, milk, and vanilla in a mixer.  With a wooden spoon, stir in the bread cubes and rhubarb solids, then pour the enture mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan.  Press down on pudding with a wooden spoon to evenly distribute through the pan. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

When ready to cook, take the bread pudding out of the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350 F.  Sprinkle the top of the pudding with a little brown sugar, then bake 30 minutes covered.  Uncover the pudding and bake for 15 more minutes, or until pudding is puffed and golden.

Meanwhile, take syrup out of the refrigerator and check for tartness - depending on your preserves and orange juice, you may need to whisk in up to 1/2 cup of sugar. Bring syrup to a boil and reduce to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.  Keep warm.

Serve puddings topped with warm syrup and whipped cream or (my favorite) ice cream.  Makes 16 servings.


  1. Wonderful flavor! I will miss your cooking!!

  2. I can attest to how wonderful this bread pudding tastes. What a great breakfast!