A delicious cinnamon bread pudding, topped with creamy Creme Anglaise sauce.
What better way to use up bread that’s past it’s prime than to bake it up into a bread pudding? This particular bread pudding is made from the last bit of my Cinnamon Crunch Skillet Bread from last weekend, so it already had the cinnamon crunch topping on it.
But don’t worry if you don’t happen to have some leftover cinnamon crunch bread around. I’ve got you covered. You can make this bread pudding with any stale bread and simply sprinkle some cinnamon crunch mixture on top before baking. Start with a cinnamon bread (or left-over cinnamon rolls), a challah, brioche or just a plain bread, as long as it’s slightly stale and preferably not pre-sliced, so you can cut your own bread chunks.
I debated about what kind of sauce (if any) to put on this bread pudding. In the end, I decided on creme anglaise. Creme anglaise is essentially the same thing as the base for making ice cream, so this sauce is akin to the wonderful taste of melted ice cream. I thought it would be the perfect complement to the cinnamon and brown sugar in the pudding. And it was.
That said, if you’re not in the mood to make a sauce, simply put a scoop of your favourite ice cream on the warmed pudding to enjoy the same effect.
Don’t expect the creme anglaise to be as thick as a bechamel sauce, for example. Creme anglaise is more like the consistency of cream that’s been ever so slightly reduced and should be pourable. If you’d like to booze it up a little for the adults, consider stirring a splash or bourbon, whiskey or rum into the sauce.
Tip: Whenever you have bits of bread that are starting to stale, cut into large chunks and put in a freezer bag and freeze until you have enough for a bread pudding. Simply thaw in the bag at room temperature and use as per the recipe.
- Creme Anglaise:
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) whipping (35%) cream or 18% cream
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
- 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) granulated sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) vanilla or vanilla bean paste
- Optional: Splash of bourbon, whiskey or rum
- For the pudding:
- 2 cups (500ml) whole milk
- 3/4 cup (180ml) heavy (whipping) cream
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 7 cups (1750ml) stale bread, cut into large-ish chunks (I used some of my left-over Cinnamon Crunch Skillet Bread. Alternately, a cinnamon bread would be great or use any plain bread, challah or brioche as long as it's slightly stale. Ideally not pre-sliced, so you can cut larger chunks.)
- Cinnamon Crunch Topping (not needed if starting with left-over cinnamon crunch bread):
- 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
- Sauce: In small saucepan over medium heat, add the cream, milk and 1 Tbsp. of the sugar. Heat until bubbles form around edge of the pan.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of sugar. When cream mixture is ready, whisk a small amount into the egg mixture, then add more, a bit at a time, until you have added about 1/2 a cup or so. Stir the tempered egg mixture back into pan with the rest of the cream and cook, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes. It shouldn't boil. (Test by dipping a spoon into mixture. It should coat the spoon and you should be able to run your finger through it and it will leave a clear line).
- Pour sauce through a fine-mesh strainer and in to a bowl. Stir in vanilla and alcohol (if using). Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the sauce and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour. Sauce will thicken slightly as it cools. (You can make ahead. Will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
- Heat the oven to 350° F with rack in the centre of the oven. Prepare a single 2-quart baking pan or several smaller pans or ramekins.
- In a medium bowl or large glass measuring cup, whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, 1/2 cup of sugar, vanilla, and salt until the mixture is smooth.
- Spread your bread chunks out evenly and in a mostly single layer in your baking dish or dishes. Pour custard mixture over bread but don't cover bread completely. Pour only enough in to come up about 3/4 of the way so that the top of the bread is exposed. Allow to sit 15 minutes, adding more of the custard mixture as the bread soaks it up, again, no higher than 3/4 of the way up.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cinnamon crunch mixture (if not using cinnamon crunch bread) by combining the brown sugar and cinnamon and pouring in the melted butter. Stir to combine.
- Evenly distribute the cinnamon crunch mixture over the top of the bread pudding (you may not need it all, depending on the size of your dishes). Set the filled baking dish (or dishes) into a larger roasting pan and add enough very hot water to the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake until custard is set and top is lightly browned, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from water bath and let sit 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm and pour prepared creme anglaise (cold or at room temperature) over the puddings.