Traveling the world through cuisine

Please Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding

Christmas carolers

Ooey. Gooey. Sugary and cinnamony sweet. I love a piping hot and bubbly bread pudding when the temperature dips down low. Especially, when smothered in a spiked whiskey caramel sauce and dalloped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Bread pudding wears many international hats. I often think of this as an English or French dish, and has been made popular in the United States in the South with Creole (french influenced) cuisine. However, much to my surprise, bread pudding is also popular dessert in Belgian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Argentinian and Malaysian cuisine.

Now, while there are all types of puddings from Yorkshire pudding to rice pudding, this pudding isn’t exactly either one of these two. Typical bread puddings are comprised of eggs, heavy cream or milk, stale bread, sugar and an array of spices from nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla and is often laced with nuts or dried fruits such as apricots, raisins and cherries. When all these ingredients are combined and baked, the cream or milk moistens the bread and marrys all the flavors into a warm and creamy delight.

Spices

Various puddings, including bread pudding became classic Christmas fare. From Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with the popular plum pudding to the popular secular 16th century English carol “We wish you a Merry Christmas” which contain the lyrics

We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
We wish you a merry Christmas
And a happy New Year.
Glad tidings we bring
To you and your kin;
Glad tidings for Christmas
And a happy New Year!

We want some figgy pudding
We want some figgy pudding
We want some figgy pudding
Please bring it right here!

Over the centuries, creative culinary freedom has allowed us to manipulate this recipe to bring out different flavors. This recipe has been adapted from Paula Deen’s “The Best Bread Pudding.” I’ve added a few other spices and a sweet and aromatic zest to brighten up this fall favorite. This delictable dessert went over so well at last year’s Thanksgiving that it has now become tradition at our gathering table. Now with Christmas upon us, you could always make it for your loved ones then as well.

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

Ingredients

For the Pudding:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 large beaten eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp of orange zest
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 4 cups cubed Italian bread, allow to stale overnight in a bowl
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

For the Sauce:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup liqueur, brandy or whiskey

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.
  3. Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl; add vanilla, zest, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
  5. In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter and pecans.
  6. Pour bread mixture into prepared pan.
  7. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set.
  8. Remove from oven.
  9. For the sauce: Mix together the granulated sugar and butter. Turn heat low and/or remove from heat for five minutes.
  10. Temper in the egg and vanilla in a saucepan. Keep heat low otherwise you will scramble the egg.
  11. Stir together until the sugar is melted.
  12. Add the liquor, stirring well.
  13. Pour over bread pudding. Serve warm or cold.

Quick Notes

To “temper in the egg” means to bring the temperature of the egg mixture up closer to the temperature of the hotter ingredients you will be mixing it with to prevent the egg from “scrambling”. You need to add a small amount of the hot ingredients to the egg mixture, a little at a time, to bring the temperature up, until it is safe to add to the hot ingredients.

Healthy It Up

Any liquor can be used to make the sauce. I have tried it with Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Frangelico and more. My family and I all agree the Frangelico is not as strong and nicely complements the bread pudding.

Tags: bread, dessert, fig, holiday, pudding

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