We just got back from New Orleans. One of the most enjoyable parts was a Cajun and Creole Cooking Class. We made everything from jambalaya to gumbo and I went home with my very own roux spoon. Although I’m a praline (pronounced prah-line) girl at heart, my husband’s favorite item was the Bread Pudding.
Bread pudding gets a bit of a bad reputation. Growing up I thought bread pudding was weird, gluey paste. Only my grandpa liked it and I just picked off the ice cream.
After visiting New Orleans, I get it. Soft and dense, bread pudding is perfect comfort food. While the recipe below is for a sweet pudding, you can easily go savory by skipping the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and caramel sauce and adding chopped ham, green onions and shredded sharp cheddar. Bacon and caramelized onions with goat cheese would also be delicious.
Per our chef in class, the key to excellent bread pudding is the bread. In New Orleans they use po-boy bread. It’s soft and white with a thin crust. Bonus- it doesn’t have to soak overnight. The closest thing here would be a large baguette or perhaps even sandwich type rolls. If anyone knows where to find po-boy bread (we just might have some in Portland), let me know.
Big Easy Bread Pudding
Makes 18 ish muffin tin sized servings
- 3 C heavy cream
- 4 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 C sugar
- 3/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 t cinnamon
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1 C whole milk
- Pinch salt
- 15 C po-boy (or French) bread in 1/2 cubes and left out to dry for about a day or two
- Optional: up to 2 C raisins, pecans, dried cranberries or sliced almonds
Rum Caramel Sauce
- 1 C butter
- 1 1/2 C dark brown sugar
- 1 T cinnamon
- 1/2 C Cajun Spiced Rum
- 1/2 C heavy cream
Heat oven to 350. Lightly coat muffin tins with nonstick baking spray.
In a large bowl, combine cream, milk, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Add bread cubes, gently toss to combine. Fold in nuts and raisins if using. Be careful not to smash the bread cubes- you’re not making snowballs.
Mixture will absorb into bread. It is possible there will be a bit left in the bottom of the bowl.
Fill muffin tins with bread crumb mixture. It may create more than 18 servings.
Bake in oven about 25 minutes. Bread pudding will puff up and appear lightly golden brown on top. Serve hot with rum caramel sauce.
Puddings freeze well. Cool completely and freeze in airtight storage for up to 3 months.
To make Rum Caramel Sauce, melt butter in large non stick pan over low heat. Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
When sugar dissolves, add rum. If you can’t find Cajun Spiced Rum, your favorite dark spiced rum will be fine. Look for anything 80 proof or higher. Not a drinker? Buy 2 small bottles at the checkout.
To flambé (aka light on fire!!!) the rum sauce, make sure nothing flammable is near the stove. Use a long-handled lighter to light the rum. Word of warning- do not light the rum while you’re pouring it. While it would be hilarious to see the flames travel up into the rum bottle and have it explode, this gets glass in your delicious puddings. Just saying.
Update: Also tie back long hair when lighting things on fire. I made this for a dinner party recently and it BURNED… possibly due to 100+ proof rum. One of my dinner guests almost had a heart attack- When I turned to grab a lid to cover the pan, my hair swung out and missed the flames by inches. The Rum Caramel Sauce was delicious but please plan better than me if you light things on fire at home.
For extra pyrotechnics, toss the cinnamon into the flames. It will spark and toast. Rum will burn blue and go out on its own. Heat heavy cream in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes so it’s warm. Add to caramel sauce and whisk until combined. Drizzle over bread puddings.
Recipe from “Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding,” Langlois Cooking School, New Orleans, Louisiana