There are few desserts as delicious as bread pudding. But it has to be good bread pudding. For decades I shied away from this incredible dessert because of my grandmother. Please allow me to explain. I think I’ve already told you that both my mother and maternal grandmother were not good cooks. My grandmother however, was excellent at homemade bread and pies. So you would think, since bread pudding is made from bread, she should have been able to make at least a passable bread pudding. Absolutely not the case. And since I never watched her put one together, I actually don’t know how hers was prepared. (Even from the ripe old age of 4 or so, I knew instinctively when to say no thank you to food that I had once tasted and knew was of poor quality. Why then would I even want to know how it was prepared? I was no dummy, even as a kid!) But, to the best of my recollection, grandma’s bread pudding starred plain old bread, soaked in a combination of milk, eggs, and a pinch of cinnamon and liberally laced with raisins. Now I like raisins, but not when they are burnt. And that was my grandmother’s forte. She could burn a raisin better than anyone I have ever known. And even if there had been some kind of warm sauce to serve with the pudding, it sure as heck didn’t contain liquor. (Not that I would have even known about cooking with liquor when I was a child. My parents weren’t teetotalers, but by any stretch of the imagination, they weren’t drinkers either. So spring forward several decades to when I left my bad memories behind and became a true devotee of bread saturated with milk, cream, and eggs and studded with little golden jewels of flavor. New Orleans. Marti Gras. Good friends (Dick, Eloise, son John and daughter-in-law Carol), fun parades, great music, and amazing food. So you know the old saying, when in Rome, well when in New Orleans you eat anything placed in front of you because it is bound to be delicious. So in order not to appear a prig (yes, I spelled it right) I went along with the crowd and ordered bread pudding for dessert one evening. Any resemblance to what I had experienced as a child was merely coincidental!  I had discovered heaven in a bowl. As soon as we got home after our 10 day adventure in Louisiana, I went to work finding the perfect recipe for bread pudding. I finally ended up with the recipe below, an amalgam of several recipes I found in cookbooks. I hope you enjoy this lovely dessert as much as we do. This bread pudding has actually made believers of others like me who, until they tried really good bread pudding, just couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. But I get it now. This recipe could make a bread pudding believer out of you too. Give it a try.

Bread Pudding Ingredients:

  • ¼ c. spiced rum
  • 1 c. golden raisins
  • 8 lg. eggs, room temperature
  • 3 ½ c. whole milk
  • 1 ½ c. heavy cream
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 (1-lb.) loaf Challah or other dense egg bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

Spiced Rum Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • ½ c. butter
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. spiced rum
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon

Whipped Cream Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. spiced rum

Bread Pudding: Combine spiced rum and golden raisins in a small heavy pan. Bring to a boil and simmer until all liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and cool. Meanwhile combine eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Gently stir in bread cubes and cooled raisins. Pour mixture into a buttered 9×13-inch baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Bake uncovered in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 75 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. (Watch carefully the last 30 minutes or so. If the pudding starts to get too brown before it is set, gently tent with aluminum foil.) Serve warm with Spiced Rum Sauce and a dollop of Whipped Cream Topping.

Spiced Rum Sauce: Combine brown sugar and butter in a medium sized heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until butter completely melted and mixture is smooth. Add heavy cream, spiced rum, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately 5 minutes or until mixture thickens and is reduced to about 1 ½ cups. Serve warm over pudding. Can be made ahead and refrigerated. Bring to a simmer again before serving.

Whipped Cream Topping:  Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks; add powdered sugar and spiced rum. Serve dolloped over top of Spiced Rum Sauce.