My name is Elizabeth, and I’m a bread pudding-holic.
I first experimented with bread pudding in college, at a cozy restaurant called The Press in Claremont. I enjoyed it and ordered it on a regular basis, but I was able to control my intake and considered my bread pudding consumption to be at a healthy level. I was what you might call a recreational bread pudding eater.
My actual addiction started a few months ago, when we introduced bread pudding to our menu at the bakery. Our bread pudding is made with toasted croissants, soaked in a vanilla and almond-scented custard and baked with semi-sweet chocolate chunks until golden and crunchy on top, and moist inside. Making bread pudding involves mixing the bread in with the custard by hand, so I constantly found myself elbow-deep in huge bowls of soaking croissants. The first time I made it, I gave myself a little taste, purely as a quality-control measure, you understand.
I was immediately hooked. When first mixed, the croissants retain much of their texture, so you get buttery, slightly crunchy bread soaked with a sweet vanilla-almond liquid. The contrast of tastes and textures is amazing. I had one, two, three bites at a time. I literally couldn’t put it down…and this was the unbaked mixture! Soon all I could think about was my next bread pudding fix. If I didn’t have any for several days I became nervous and irritable, jonesing for my next bite of that sweet sweet nectar.
I would like to say that I’ve recovered, but the truth is that I’m still in the throes of addiction, and this week’s TWD recipe didn’t help matters. I love bread pudding so much, I’m not even put off when it comes out of the oven looking like the vomit of Satan:
On to the recipe itself. In my extensive bread pudding baking experience, I would say that this recipe is in the Top 5 of those I have tried. It’s much wetter than most bread puddings I’ve made in the past, and I thought the addition of a water bath was unique (and maybe unnecessary?). If I were to make it again, I’d cut the liquid by at least 1/3 and try omitting the water bath, to simplify the recipe. I added chunks of chocolate to the bread, and I liked the resulting pockets of chocolate in the pudding, but I wished for more texture, so next time I might add toasted pecans or walnuts.
Dorie recommends eating it cold, but I liked it much better warm, actually–and it reheated like a dream. I used croissants in mine, since they were easier to find than brioche, but I think brioche might have kept its texture better with all that liquid, so I’ll try and track down brioche next time. Still, the croissants performed admirably:
I tried to eat as much of this bread pudding as possible, going by the theory that I would get so sick of it, it would cure my addiction. I am sorry to report that this course of action didn’t work, and I was left with an empty bread pudding dish, a full stomach, and an intense craving a mere 12 hours later. However, I am currently 2 days clean and am trying to live one day at a time. Thank you all for your support.
[Confidential to my fellow LA-ites: I must warn you about the worst bread pudding I've ever had. Last month I had the misfortune to try some from a Santa Monica restaurant that shall remain nameless, but it starts with an "H" and ends with an "uckleberry Cafe," and it is, believe it or not,well known for its bread pudding. Unfortunately, the bread pudding was more like a bread flan, it was so extremely eggy. And it was not sweet, at ALL, so the end result was like the mutant baby of a sponge, an omelet, and chewy paste. Am I conveying how awful this was? To add insult to injury, nearby tables were happily gumming their way through this bread pudding, and no doubt rushing home to yelp about how rad and retro it is and lure more innocents into paying for the privilege of not eating it. Consider yourselves warned.]