This Brioche Bread Pudding is my version of the classic bread and butter pudding of my childhood, with a perfect combination of a crusty top and a tender buttery brioche cakey layer sitting atop a silky and lightly spiced custard.
In Cape Malay homes baked milk puddings like bread and butter pudding (brood porring), sago pudding (saagoe porring) or Cape Malay Potato pudding (aartappel porring) are often made for Sundays or feast days and served with stewed dried fruit.
On a visit to my neighbourhood supermarket I passed brioche loaves that seemed to be calling out ‘buy me’. I had no idea what I would do with it and passed on that occasion. A few days later I saw a recipe on a facebook page for old fashioned bread pudding and wondered how it would taste with the brioche loaf I had seen a few days before. My cousin encouraged me to carry the brioche all the way to Cape Town to make a bread and butter pudding with brioche, even telling me which bag to carry it in.
My memories of bread puddings included watery versions, stodgy and tasteless versions, under cooked or overcooked versions as well as ones with too much starch added. I vaguely remembered my mother making it, although she became quite proficient only after I moved to Dubai.
I threw together my own bread pudding recipe hoping that the end product would evoke the same comforting memories as my favored Cape Malay Potato puddings had in the past. I discovered that it is no doubt one of the simplest recipes to make using kitchen staples and a few days old bread. If you are unable to find brioche bread at your bakery or supermarket, try challah or egg loaf as it has a similar texture and rich flavor.
PS: Many bread and butter puddings require custard on the side because they are a bit lacking in moisture, but this is a soft moist luscious custard bread pudding.
Top tips for making the best ever brioche bread and butter pudding
- Use bread that is a few days old as the stale bread is drier and absorbs the custard better.
- If you only have fresh bread on hand you can toast the slices for a few minutes in the oven to dry them out.
- I also make this bread pudding with raisins as the custard is not very sweet. Don’t leave out the sultanas or raisins as they add to the sweetness.
- Leave the assembled unbaked bread pudding to sit on the table for at least 45 minutes before baking. This will allow the br ead to absorb the custard and make the pudding creamy, moist and silky smooth.
Alternatives to Brioche bread and butter pudding:
- Make chocolate bread and butter pudding with chocolate wafers or buttons instead of dried raisins or sultanas.
- Make raisin bread pudding using delicious enriched yeasted raisin loaves.
- Make bread and butter pudding with hot cross buns instead of brioche or plain white bread for a spicy fruity delight.
- Make bread and butter pudding with croissants instead of bread for a richer more calorific dessert.
- Make bread and butter pudding without cream for a lighter less calorific option.
Brioche bread and butter pudding
- 25 grams soft butter to grease the baking dish
- 14 slices brioche lower crust removed
- 60 grams soft butter
- 125 ml sultanas
- 12 extra large eggs
- 385 grams condensed milk approximately 1 can
- 187 ml fine granulated sugar approximately ¾ cup
- 1 litre milk divided
- 20 grams custard powder approximately 30 ml or 2 tablespoons mixed in 125ml of the milk
- 500 ml fresh cream
- 4 small pieces stick cinnamon
- 1.25 ml fine cardamom approximately ¼ teaspoon
- 5 ml vanilla extract approximately 1 teaspoon
- 1.25 ml vanilla seeds or paste approximately ¼ teaspoon
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius or 160 fan / 350 F / Gas mark 4.
- Grease an ovenproof glass baking dish of 2 litre capacity with 25 grams butter. I used an oblong dish for the large one and a ramekin to make a smaller individual one.
- The brioche will have a soft top crust so only remove the harder bottom crust from all the slices and cut each one in half diagonally to make triangles.
- Spread each slice on one side only with a slick of the soft butter and arrange in the dish cut side up.
- Sprinkle the sultanas between the layers.
- In a large bowl add the eggs, condensed milk and sugar and beat for 5 minutes with a whisk until pale and creamy.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of milk and mix with the custard powder until smooth and free of lumps.
- Add the rest of the milk, the cream and the custard mixture to the egg mixture and whisk thoroughly for 2 minutes.
- Add the vanilla extract, vanilla seeds and cardamom and whisk lightly to combine.
- Scatter the stick cinnamon pieces evenly over the bread layers then ladle the egg mixture on carefully.
- Leave the bread pudding to sit unbaked for at least 45 minutes, and occasionally press down lightly to help the bread absorb the custard.
- Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the bread is golden and the custard is set.
- Serve immediately with stewed dried fruit.
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