Bread pudding can be an easy kitchen-sink type of dessert. Really, any type of bread will work, and you can throw whatever fruit is ripe enough in it as well. But for this recipe, we wanted to step up the standard bread pudding.
A few things that make this bread pudding stand out: We splashed in some brandy because we love a dessert that’s a little boozy. We added a little bit of lemon juice to the sugar to prevent the sugar from crystallizing as it caramelizes. We prefer Bosc pears because they hold up well when cooked and taste divine, but any pear will work in this dish.
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ pounds firm-ripe pears (about 4), peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 12 slices (1/2 inch thick) Italian bread, toasted
In a large skillet, combine 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the lemon juice, and the salt. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has melted and starts to color slightly for about 3 minutes. Add the pears and butter and cook, frequently stirring, until the tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes (timing may vary).
In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup sugar, the nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, whole eggs, egg yolks, and brandy. Whisk in the half-and-half.
Place 6 slices of bread, pressing the bread down on the pears. Pour the half-and-half mixture over all. Let it stand for 30 minutes at room temperature, occasionally pressing on the top layer of bread to submerge it.
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Line the bottom of a large baking dish (large enough to hold the baking dish with the pears) with newspaper, paper towels, or a kitchen cloth for insulation so the bottom doesn’t overcook or separate. Place the baking dish in the larger baking dish. Place the larger baking dish on a pulled-out oven rack and pour hot water to come halfway up the sides of the smaller baking dish. Bake for 1 hour, or until the custard is set. Remove from the water bath. Serve warm or chilled.
This recipe can be found in our Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook.