Bread Pudding is the quintessential New Orleans dessert. Every restaurant in the city has some sort of variation. Here’s an twist to this southern dessert. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie spices along with pecans really dress up classical bread pudding. And it appears like a cake when baked in a spring form pan. I served the dessert with bourbon sauce. Delicious. With Louisiana sweet potatoes available in the fall, this is a good time to make this variation.
What is bread pudding?
Bread pudding has old, old beginnings dating to the 11th and 12th centuries. It was a way for frugal cooks to use leftover, stale bread rather than wasting it. In the traditional recipe, the bread is soaked in a custard of milk and eggs along with seasonings then baked. Bread pudding can be savory or sweet. The Romans made a variation of bread pudding. The British made bread pudding as early as the 13th century when this dish was known as “poor man’s pudding” in England. For some reason, this dish has become associated with New Orleans. When made with crusty and airy New Orleans’ French Bread and served with a whiskey, rum or butter sauce, this dessert is irresistible.
Here are the ingredient for my recipe. It includes six eggs as well as milk, sugar, butter, pecans and spices. It is very similar to a recipe I featured several years ago for “Pumpkin Bread Pudding” with several slight modifications.
I use only traditional French bread to make my recipe. I am able to purchase authentic French bread from Rouse’s market since this New Orleans’ family chain added a location close by. This is Reising’s Poor Boy Enriched New Orleans French Bread. It has a very porous texture and really soaks up the milk and eggs without becoming soggy. If you can’t find French Bread, then baguettes would work.
Place the bread cubes in a well oiled 9″ spring form pan. Blend the rest of the ingredients together with an electric mixer (except the pecans) and add to the bread cubes. Stir. Then let the pudding sit in the refrigerator for two hours. Stir occasionally and mash some of the bread cubes. (As an alternate approach, you can soak the bread cubes for only 15 – 20 minutes; then bake the dessert. This results in a puffy flavored custard which retains more of the bread cube texture. This is delicious, too.)
When ready to bake, top with one cup of coarsely chopped pecans. Bake in a slow 325 degree oven for one hour until the center is set and the edges pull away from the pan. Let set in the spring form pan for an hour before removing the sides of the pan. The pudding will puff up while baking and the settle back down when cooled.
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding
- 1 (8 oz) sweet potato
- 6 cups small cubes stale French bread
- 6 large eggs
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 2 cups milk
- 2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- Bourbon Sauce
- Whipped Topping or ice cream, optional.
Method and Steps:
- To bake the sweet potato, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the sweet potato in several places with knife. Place sweet potato on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and cool. Peel and then mash sweet potato pulp with a potato masher. Set aside.
- Generously oil a 9″ spring form baking pan. Place the French bread cubes in the spring form baking pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of electric mixer, beat the eggs for about 2 – 3 minutes on high speed until lemony in color and airy.
- Add the sugar and baked sweet potato pulp and beat until blended.
- Add the milk, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed until mixed.
- Pour milk milk mixture over bread cubes in baking pan and toss to combine.
- Place in refrigerator for 2 hours. Stir breading pudding mix every half an hour, pressing down on some of the bread cubes.
- Meanwhile, heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Briefly bake pecan pieces until aromatic. Place pecan pieces on baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes until aromatic but not browned. Immediately remove pecan pieces from baking sheet and sprinkle evenly on top of bread pudding.
- Bake bread pudding for an hour or until center is set and edges pull away from the sides of the pan.
- Remove from oven and let set on counter for an hour before removing sides of spring form pan.
- Serve with Bourbon Sauce and whipped topping or ice cram (optional).
Here’s the recipe for the Bourbon Sauce
- 1/2 cup corn syrup
- 2 Tbsp bourbon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup butter
Method and Steps:
- In a small pot, bring corn syrup and bourbon to a boil on the stove.
- Lower temperature, and stir in vanilla extract and butter. Stir until butter is melted, then remove from stove.