Whole Wheat Bread Pudding with Fruit and Nuts

Listen to me: This is what you need to make the next time you have leftover bread.

Vertical oblique shot of two white plates of whole wheat bread putting with the remainder in the background in a square clear glass baking dish, with a green apple, on a dark brown wood table, printed with orange and white text.

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.

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.

Overhead shot of a glass baking dish of homemade bread pudding with a light green apples, and scattered dried fruit and nuts, on a dark brown wood surface.

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.

A slice of whole wheat bread putting is on top of a metal spatula that is resting on the rim of a square glass baking dish that contains the remainder of the dessert, on a dark brown wood surface with scattered walnut pieces, dried figs and raisins, and two green apples.

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.

A square portion of whole wheat banana bread with nuts and fruit is on a small blue and white patterned plate in the foreground with a fork resting on the edge, with another small plate of dessert beside a glass baking dish that contains the rest in the background, on a white striped kitchen towel with two green apples, on a dark brown wood table.

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.

Overhead shot of a square glass baking dish and two small plates of whole wheat bread putting, with a striped white cloth kitchen towel, two light green apples, two forks, and scattered nuts and dried fruit, on a dark brown wood table.

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!

A person off-camera holds a forkful of bread pudding up to the camera, with the remainder of the dessert on plates and in a glass baking dish in soft focus on the background, with a striped white kitchen towel, light green apple, and scattered dried fruits and nuts on a dark brown wood surface.

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.

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A square glass baking dish with handle cutouts on either side is filled with whole wheat bread pudding, on top of a white cloth kitchen towel with scattered walnut pieces, raisins, dried figs, and two green apples, on a dark brown wood surface.

Whole Wheat Bread Pudding with Fruit and Nuts


  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and grease an 8-by-8-inch glass baking dish well with butter.
  2. 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.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, heavy cream, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat immediately.
  5. 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.
  6. Return to medium heat and cook until the custard mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes.
  7. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, apple, walnuts, raisins, and figs. Pour the custard mixture over the top and toss to coat.
  8. Let stand for about 10 minutes, until the liquids have soaked into the bread throughout. Spread evenly into the prepared baking pan.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Let cool slightly, then slice and serve warm.

Notes

Adapted from Epicurious.

  • 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

Using a serrated bread knife on a sturdy cutting board, cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups total.

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.

Overhead shot of all of the ingredients required to make a custard-style bread pudding at home, including an apple, a bowl of cubes of bread, and smaller round glass bowls of golden raisins, chopped dried figs, cream, warming spices, cracked eggs and an extra yolk, chopped walnuts, and vanilla extract, on a dark brown wood surface.

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.

Overhead shot of cubes of whole wheat baguette on a metal baking sheet with a ribbed surface.

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.

A mixture of honey, egg, and vanilla in a stainless steel mixing bowl with a ring handle, with a wire whisk with a light blue handle, on a dark brown wood surface.

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.

Overhead shot of a light blue and off-white enameled saucepan with a combination of cream and warming spices at the bottom, on a dark brown wood table.

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.

Overhead shot of a cinnamon and cream mixture in the bottom of a light blue and cream-colored enameled saucepan, on a dark brown wood background.

Tempering in this way will prevent the eggs from cooking too quickly, and turning into scrambled eggs.

Closely cropped overhead shot of a spiced cream and egg mixture in an off-white and light blue enameled saucepan, on a dark brown wood table.

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.

Overhead closely cropped shot of chopped apple, golden raisins, chopped dried figs, walnut pieces, and chunks of whole wheat bread in a stainless steel mixing bowl on a dark brown wood background.

Pour custard over the top and toss to coat evenly.

A mixture of egg, spices, fruit, nuts, and cubes of bread in a stainless steel mixing bowl, on a dark brown wood table.

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.

A wet fruit, nut, and bread mixture coated with a spiced egg custard in a square glass baking dish with cut-out handles, on a dark brown wood surface.

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.

Oblique overhead vertical shot of a glass baking dish set into a larger metal baking dish with a few inches of water at the bottom to make a water bath for baking, on a dark brown wood table.

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.

A square glass baking dish with handle cutouts on either side is filled with whole wheat bread pudding, on top of a white cloth kitchen towel with scattered walnut pieces, raisins, dried figs, and two green apples, on a dark brown wood surface.

Wondering what to serve for dinner before devouring dessert? Check out some of our favorite comforting dinners:

And if you’re in the mood for more figgy delights, don’t miss our recipes for easy homemade jam, or Grown-Up Fig Newtons!

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: December 15, 2018 at 11:11 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.

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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.

17 thoughts on “Whole Wheat Bread Pudding with Fruit and Nuts”

  1. even the name of it sounds warm and comforting: bread pudding. i like that. you know what else january and winter and long commutes mean? slow cookers. i think i’ll dust mine off very soon.

  2. The first few lines of this post made me think of the opening strains of a Vonnegut novel. And that’s a really nice thing.

    Bread pudding sounds nice, too – even if it is studded with chewy fig pieces.

  3. Never, but never, throw out old bread. That’s not me talking. This is an age old bit of wisdom. I just heed it. Lovely pudding!

  4. Mmmmm! Another stale/hard bread trick is to put it into something I like to call “throw it in a dish, cover it with cheese and bake it.”

    I started doing this with stale baguettes after seeing Rachael Ray make this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/bread-gnocchi-with-tomato-and-basil-recipe/index.html, but have since added my own variations.

    Basically, chop the bread into bite size (or slightly larger) pieces. Trick: Microwave the bread a bit to soften it enough to slice if you are like me and have week-old baguettes that could not possibly be sliced as-is. Take your bread chunks and put them in a pan with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss ’em around and cook until they start to get a nice golden brown color. Then, put them in a baking dish (sometimes I use a bread pan, sometimes a square pan, but I’ve found that a bread pan works nicely here) with some tomato sauce and whatever veggies you have lying around the house. I sometimes add sliced (pre-cooked) Italian sausage too. Top with mozzarella and any other cheese you like and bake for about 30 min at 375ish…until it is golden brown and bubbling on top.

    This is one of my all time favorite “recipes,” as it can be used in a million different ways…but it is especially good for stale bread!

  5. I want SO MUCH to enjoy bread pudding…but there’s something about the texture that just throws me off. I’m willing to give it another try though. (Currently my favorite use for old bread is croutons or gazpacho).

    Oh, and thanks for setting up the food bloggers project 365 on flickr. I am having a blast with it, and the support is amazing!

  6. This sounds like exactly what I need right now. I started the year with a flu, so comfort food like this for me, please. I’ll give the recipe to my boyfriend. He can make it for me:) BTW, I’m absolutely loving your blog. Gorgeous and smart. My new fav:)

  7. oh my goodness today is as cold as it was when we were up there!!!
    sounds yummmy. i think the kiddies might even like it.. especially topped with ice cream or cool whip…or heck sprinkles make everything kid friendly— hum —kumquats with sprinkles on top!??!

  8. Jacqui, You are reading my mind. You know what I just looked up online the other day? best slow cooker recipes. It is time indeed.

    Maria, I wish! Thanks for helping my ego along – you are very kind. And lol about the figs. I definitely ate around them. 🙂

    Julia, I know, I know! I honestly try not to, and I don’t often, and gosh, now I’m just making excuses. I’m working on it.

    Kim, Fun! Filing that away for the crusty bread I will no doubt have soon. Thank you for typing it out and sharing it!

    Cate, Hmmn, I can understand that. You could, of course if you wanted to, play around with proportions to make it less goopy or more goopy or whatever you want, but if it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. Like me and mushrooms. I understand. Oh and PS I am loving our food-blogging P365 group too! So glad you’re involved!

    Tiina, Sorry to hear you’ve been sick! That was kind of how I ended 2009, and it does stink. Give your boyfriend this and any other recipe to get you on the mend! And PS I just saw your blog yesterday I think, so small world (I subscribed right away)! Thank you for saying this place is smart. That warms my heart.

    JessieV, Would you believe I just bought some coconut milk today? Fate.

    Rachel, You are kidding! Let’s hope that changes in a few weeks, right? Love your sprinkles idea. They always made me like things more, so your kids will probably agree. Can’t wait to see you all!

  9. love this post! your writing is lovely… and lets face it, I am taken in with ingenuity re: day-old bread and homey desserts… warm kitchens in the cold of winter? perfect.

  10. i know i sound stupid here, but i never actually knew you use actual bread to make bread pudding….it looks amazing, i might maybe i should be daring and try it soon!!

  11. Im one of those people that always ends up with crusty hard bread lying around and I usually make breadcrumbs with it, but this looks like a way more fun use. I love dried figs and I think i’ll probably use them!

  12. Janelle, It really is the redeeming part of winter that it pulls us toward the warmth of the kitchen. Bread pudding is perfect for that!

    Jackie, Ha! You don’t sound stupid (and I love that you commented here! first time?). Make this! I’d love to hear what you think!

    Erika, Bread crumbs is another good idea – saves you from buying it, right? Smart.

    Hannah, Indeed. Oh, I hope you do!

  13. This sounds perfect for this weather – I once had a bread pudding made with brioche and chocolate. Unsurprisingly it was amazing!

  14. Leftoverist, Me too. Don’t you love things that are practical and enjoyable? There should be more of that in the world.

    Gemma, Indeed! Oh and I just saw a wonderful-looking chocolate bread pudding over at the blog Slow Like Honey, did you catch it? Next on my list.

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