Bread pudding exemplifies how a complete afterlife of food can become something even better and more memorable. What’s not to love with bread, cinnamon, custard, and butter—a.k.a home, in just four ingredients. Bread pudding was not meant to be perfect, but it sure manages to remain so. I first tasted it at Café Figaro in New York City back in the 1990s, under the egging on and urging of a happily drunk waitress, and have never looked back.
I often bake with fruits for special family occasions. The smell of clementines, wholesale boxes of apples, persimmons, and Asian pears, someone bringing over a glossy fruit tart to share over coffee, a strawberry shortcake—that’s what the holidays looked like for me growing up. I still marvel at how my mom cuts fruit like a pro: strong angles and perfect peels, whether she's using a small paring knife, big chef’s knife, or even a Swiss army knife! I sometimes wonder if my kin would lunge for chocolate if it was put in front of them, but the thought dies quickly: Nope, fruit is everyone’s favorite guest.
I’m not the first to place boozy fruit at the center of a great dessert, and I won’t be the last, but this combination got me thinking: If rum cake and tiramisu and beer-flavored sorbet can handle their liquor, so can bread pudding, right? In merging my world of fruit during the holidays and the universally celebratory prosecco, I ended up with this recipe for Bread Pudding with Prosecco-ed Fruits.
You want to select fruit that can hold their own and not become blurred with softened challah and spiked custard, like pears and citrus (which help awaken other flavors) and berries (for tartness and color). While letting the fruit bathe in bubbly, sneak in a few sips of prosecco yourself. I like to think that when all that fizzing has faded, there’s still some joy left in the air.
- 500 milliliters Prosecco (2 cups)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup raspberries or chopped strawberries (whatever you prefer)
- 1 orange, sliced with peel and pith removed
- 1 apple, quartered and sliced thin (peel on)
- 1 pear, quartered and sliced thin (peel on)
- 1 lemon, zested & juiced
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
Bread and Custard
- 5 cups challah or brioche, cubed into about 1-inch pieces (let it sit out overnight to get stale)
- 5 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- butter, for greasing your baking dish
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (for cinnamon-sugar topping)
How do you like to serve your bread pudding? Let us know in the comments!