Classic Bread Pudding
Why This Recipe Works
Contemporary versions of this humble dish vary in texture, from mushy, sweetened porridge to chewy, desiccated cousins of overcooked holiday stuffing. We wanted a dessert cart–worthy dish as refined as any French soufflé: a moist, creamy (but not eggy) interior and a crisp top crust.
After extensive testing of different types of bread, we chose challah for its rich flavor. We cut the bread into cubes, toasted them until lightly browned, and soaked the cubes with a batch of basic custard. Once the cubes were saturated, we transferred them to a baking dish and slid our pudding into a low-temperature oven to prevent curdling. The custard turned out creamy and smooth, but not as set as we’d have liked. Adding another egg or two would help, but tasters were already complaining that the pudding tasted somewhat eggy. It turns out that eggy flavor comes from the sulfur compounds in egg whites. We got rid of the whites and just used the yolks. We now had a luscious, silky custard with no trace of egginess.
To create a crackly crust, we dotted the top of the pudding with additional toasted bread cubes before baking it. After brushing the surface with melted butter and sprinkling the dish with a flavorful mixture of white and brown sugar, we transferred it to the oven. The crunchy, buttery, sugary crust was the perfect partner to the satiny-smooth custard that lay below.