Listen to me: This is what you need to make the next time you have leftover bread.
I’m talking about the kind that’s sitting around on your countertop, hogging space, suddenly as rock-hard as a baseball bat, practically begging you to throw it away.
But you have a way of using it all up.
This is what you do when you want to whip together a quick dessert that can be made as simply as possible, using up things you already have on hand.
And, most importantly, this is exactly what you want to enjoy when it’s cold outside and there’s snow all around you, covering the roads and the trees, and freezing on your car.
You make bread pudding.
Now that we’ve settled firmly into the winter season, with its icy temperatures and big snowstorms, it’s time to pull out our favorite recipes for those foods that are steamy, gooey, and creamy inside.
This dessert, which is a cinch to make, fills your kitchen with the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg and apples. The delicious spiced custard soaks into every inch of the bread while it bakes, to create something utterly satisfying.
I used whole wheat, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use whatever you have on hand – a raisin bread would be lovely.
It’s perfect for people like me, who tend to let their bread get hard and crusty, and then wonder what to do with. Because you wouldn’t even dream of going out to the store now – not in this weather!
Make this hearty and delicious dessert, and tuck in for the night, because face it: this winter thing isn’t going anywhere any time soon. And the combination of baked apples, raisins, walnuts, and figs is heavenly.Print
Don’t throw out day-old bread when you can make the best whole wheat bread pudding recipe for dessert. It’s warm, custard-soaked goodness.
- Unsalted butter
- 1 whole wheat baguette or your favorite whole grain bread, cut into ½-inch cubes (6 cups total)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 large Mcintosh, green, or baking apple, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped dried figs
- Preheat oven to 325°F and grease an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish well with butter.
- If bread it not day-old, you will need to dry it out. On a rimmed cookie sheet, spread fresh bread cubes in an even layer, then stick them in the preheated oven to bake for 8-10 minutes or until dry but not browned, tossing them halfway through.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla.
- In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, heavy cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat immediately.
- Add 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture slowly, whisking as you pour it in. Repeat this process twice before adding the milk and egg mixture back to the hot milk mixture to temper it.
- Return to medium heat and cook until the custard mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, apple, walnuts, raisins, and figs. Pour the custard mixture over the top and toss to coat.
- Let stand for about 10 minutes, until the liquids have soaked into the bread throughout. Spread evenly into the prepared baking pan.
- Fill a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or a roasting pan ½-1 inch full with hot water. Place the filled baking dish inside, and cover it with foil.
- Bake for 40 minutes, until cooked through and edges are bubbling. Remove pan from water bath, remove foil, and return bread pudding to the oven to bake for 10 additional minutes, until the top is browned.
- Let cool slightly, then slice and serve warm.
Adapted from Epicurious.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
- Category: Bread Pudding
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Dessert
Keywords: bread pudding, walnut, apple, cinnamon, comfort food, autumn
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Cut, Grate, Chop, and Measure Remaining Ingredients
Grate fresh nutmeg until you have 1/2 tsp ground.
Peel and core the apple. I like a tart variety, and a type that is suited to baking is preferred for this recipe. Cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
Chop the walnuts and dried figs.
Measure out all remaining ingredients. Be sure to set out the ingredients in the order listed to make it easier as you move through the recipe steps.
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish well with unsalted butter.
Step 2 – Dry It Out
If you are using freshly bought bread, you will need to dry it out. Spread the cubes in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake for about 8-10 minutes, tossing halfway through, to dry out the bread. Keep an eye on it, and pull the pan out of the oven before the cubes start to toast.
This is a great way to use day-old bread as well. If you choose to use up leftovers this way, you do not need to dry it out. You can skip this step and move onto the next.
Step 3 – Make Custard
Add the honey, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla to a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together until combined.
In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the milk, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Once simmering, immediately remove from the heat.
Slowly pour ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly as you pour it in. Repeat this process twice before slowly pouring the milk and egg mixture back to the hot milk mixture, whisking constantly until combined.
Tempering in this way will prevent the eggs from cooking too quickly, and turning into scrambled eggs.
Return the pan to medium heat and cook until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
Step 4 – Make Fruit and Nut Mix
Add bread, apple, walnuts, raisins, and figs to a large bowl. Stir together to combine.
Pour custard over the top and toss to coat evenly.
Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes, allowing the liquid to soak in.
Step 5 – Bake
Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
Add enough hot water to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or a roasting pan to be 1/2 inch to 1 inch deep. Place the 8-inch baking dish inside the larger dish. Wrap tightly with foil.
Bake for 40 minutes, until cooked through and the edges are bubbling. Remove the foil and remove the pan from the water bath.
Return the baking dish to the oven to bake for 10 additional minutes, until the top is browned.
Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.
What’s the Key to Perfecting This Dessert?
To make the perfect bread pudding, you need to have three elements:
First is dry bread, either that you’ve toasted or that is day-old. This ensures that the bread doesn’t simply fall apart when you mix it with the custard.
Second, you need to make sure the bread soaks up the custard for a bit before you bake. That way, the cut cubes have time to fully absorb the custard to make the inside nice and soft.
Finally, don’t over bake this dish. You want it to be creamy but set. Since you won’t be looking for a toothpick inserted in the center to come out clean, you need to look for a golden brown top with a center that jiggles just a bit.
Want to be extra sure? The temp inside should be 160˚F.
Wondering what to serve for dinner before devouring dessert? Check out some of our favorite comforting dinners:
- Ricotta, Pecorino, and Mozzarella Lasagna with Mushrooms and Broccoli
- Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon
- Instant Pot White Wine Braised Chicken
The only question is, who will you make this bread pudding for? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe once you’ve tried it.
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 8, 2010. Last updated: July 10, 2023 at 11:24 am. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Yager and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.