I don’t cook — no time, no inclination, no natural talent. But I’ve got to eat. So any food things I make need to be fairly low in their time commitment and domestic skills requirements.

Oh, bread pudding… staple of my university residence dining hall days… perhaps best known for its permanent grip on the dining hall ceiling in the wake of a bygone food fight and rumored to be a rather fine hair conditioner. Also, it was surprisingly tasty. I seem to remember it was drizzled with syrup or honey (something sticky)? Anyway…

I never really thought about trying to make it until I came across a recipe for Raspberry Nutella Bread Pudding from Evil Shenanigans. And it actually looked easy enough for me to try!

Since then, I’ve found that this way of making bread pudding is almost infinitely adaptable to any kind of flavor/filling, and while the whole milk and 2 Tbsp of cream recommended by Evil Shenanigans makes it extra rich and, well, creamy, the recipe works just fine with 1% milk or even skim. Here’s my adaptation, but do go check out Evil Shenanigans if you want to try the original.

You need:

  • 8 slices of BREAD (any tasty kind — plain white, egg bread, fruit bread, raisin/cinnamon…)
  • 1 1/2 cups MILK (any degree of richness from skim to whole, according to your preference)
  • 1/3 cup SUGAR
  • 2 EGGS
  • 1 tsp. FLAVORING (vanilla is most standard, but I’ve had some lovely results with almond extract & orange extract too — it really depends on what your filling is)
  • approximately 1 cup FILLING (can be anything delicious… limited only by your imagination and access to ingredients…jam, Nutella, peanut butter, marshmallows, ricotta cheese, lemon curd…)
  • extra SUGAR and/or other toppings for dusting/sprinkling
  • (optional) SAUCE to drizzle over the top — custard, maple syrup, honey, chocolate sauce, caramel, fruit coulis…

Heat the oven to 350ºF.

Prepare your baking dish — I usually use a 2.8 L Corningware dish (the French White one everyone got for their wedding in the 90s and 00s) — to be non-sticky however you like to do it (I just butter mine).

Make four sandwiches with your bread and filling. You can spread the filling as thickly as you like. Cut the sandwiches into pieces and place them in the baking dish; you get a nice look from triangle-style quarters placed points-up as per the original recipe, but as long as the dish is pretty well crammed with an even layer of sandwich pieces, it should work fine.

Crack the eggs into a suitable container (I often use a 2-cup measuring cup as it pours nicely afterward) and whisk them a little, then add the sugar, milk, and flavoring — keep whisking till it’s all nicely blended.

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the sandwiches. You might need to tilt the dish around a bit to make sure the egg mixture gets into all the corners. Then dust/sprinkle your extra sugar and/or other toppings (orange zest? chocolate chips? rainbow sprinkles?) evenly over the sandwich pieces.

Let it stand for at least ten minutes so the bread can soak up the egg mixture. (This is important. Do not skip this wait time!)

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until set (note: a deeper dish with a smaller base area will take longer), then let it cool for at least ten minutes. After that, you can serve it warm, let it cool to room temperature, or chill it, as you wish.

Bread pudding can be served with a sauce drizzled over the top, though it’s totally not necessary and I usually don’t bother unless I’m trying to be fancy. Still, it’s one more option to add to this totally flexible dessert… which can also double as breakfast, since it’s mainly egg and milk and bread. And yes, I have eaten this for breakfast.