Airy Rosemary Citrus Pignole Bread Pudding

February 19, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

This recipe was inspired by fluffy chiffon cakes (fluffing the egg whites separate from their yolks), my love for making flan and creme brulee, as well by Lemon Pignole cookies. I used several varieties of citrus since I lacked Meyer lemons and flavored the pudding with honey and rosemary for a garden-like twist. And just so ya know, this is the most bowls you'll every see me dirty in the making of one dish! —gabrielaskitchen

Test Kitchen Notes

We nicknamed this "restaurant" bread pudding -- not because it's difficult to make, but because if it were served to us in a restaurant (not to mention gabrielaskitchen's home) we'd be duly impressed. The herbs, vanilla, and a trio of citrus zests infuse the milk with a heady mix of complementary flavors, and honey adds a rich, musky sweetness that sugar simply cannot. The sweetness of the custard is offset by lemon juice and butter-soaked bread cubes, and whipped egg whites lighten the pudding. The resulting dessert miraculously separates into a rich, custardy base and a puffy, tender top layer studded with toasted pine nuts. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 large loaf Italian or French bread, about 3 cups cubed
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1/2 tsp. dry rosemary pulverized
  • 1 teaspoon zest of lemon
  • 1 teaspoon zest of grapefruit
  • 1 teaspoon zest of one orange
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
  • juice of one small lemon
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup toasted pinenuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°. Cut or tear a loaf of bread into approximately 1 inch cubes. Spread the bread, in one layer, on baking sheets. Toast for about 10 minutes, until bread is slightly crisp on the outside but still spongy on the inside.
  2. Place milk, rosemary, citrus zest and vanilla in a sauce pan on medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, then promptly remove from heat and cover. Let rest for 15 minutes. If you used fresh rosemary remove and discard the sprigs and leaves. Add honey to the milk mixture stirring until completely incorporated.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, lemon juice and melted butter.
  4. Prepare a 8 x 8 x 1 1/2 in. square pan. Lightly grease the bottom and sides with unsalted butter. Place bread into the pan.
  5. In a separate bowl, separate egg yolks and white, reserving both for use. Beat the egg yolks until lemon colored. Add to the milk mixture, blending well.
  6. In yet another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the first milk and egg mixture.
  7. Pour the final pudding-like mixture over the bread, making sure that it is evenly coated. Top with toasted pinenuts.
  8. Place the baking pan into a larger pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the outer pan to come halfway up the sides of the pan containing the bread pudding.
  9. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Serve with fresh whipped cream (1 small carton heavy cream plus 2 Tbs. sugar whipped).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Droplet
  • Hark
  • MissGinsu
  • gabrielaskitchen

34 Reviews

Philisa January 30, 2016
Wow what a recipe gabby! May I call you gabby??? How did you come up with such a delicacy? This must have been months of painstaking trial and error with the help of your beau testing pudding and drinking bourbon, what a fella ?!!!
DAVILCHICK March 30, 2014
I have been DYING to make this dish since it won its contest but my husband isn't a huge bread pudding fan so every time I suggested it he gave me that "do you have to?" look. But last weekend I prevailed and it was quite the show stopper. We were at a dinner party for 8 people so I doubled the recipe and I'm glad I did because EVERYONE had seconds. There wasn't a drop left. So light and airy and refreshing. I made the recipe as written and it was perfect. Thank you so much! I'm just sorry it took me so long to make it.
Droplet November 13, 2011
This is a treasure. Gracias Gabriela.
mem April 19, 2011
I substituted buttermilk for the milk and it worked out well. It was just a little too sweet for my taste, so next time I plan to cut 1/3 of the honey and add a pinch of salt. Also, the consistency of the bottom layer was almost greasy, so I am going to cut the butter a bit as well. I'll definitely try it out again, the flavors are beautiful together.
Hark March 11, 2011
Just a warning, this was very rich, and my kitchen was little chaotic while cooking, but it was tasty, and apparently feeds a lot more people than I thought it would.
MissGinsu July 3, 2010
Just saw this one. Definitely going in my recipe box under the "how to impress the guests" category.
gabrielaskitchen March 6, 2010
Here are two things Amanda and Merrill pointed out in their video that I want to include on this page in case you make this recipe without watching the video. Do watch the video though it's cute!
A) In step 5 make sure to add the warm milk mixture to the eggs little by little so the eggs temper and don't' "scramble."
B) In step 6 beat the whites to just under stiff peaks. That is, beat until fluffy and airy.
HaikuTofu March 1, 2010
Gorgeous- I think it will be worth the extreme dishwashing to try this!
gabrielaskitchen March 2, 2010
Thanks, it was (although my boyfriend did the dishes, not I).
ZiggyPiecrust February 28, 2010
I made a Strawberry Rhubarb pie (strawb season just starting in FL) AND this fabulous amazing bread pudding for my husband's birthday party last night to rave reviews from all. How can you not love something covered in pignolis.
gabrielaskitchen March 2, 2010
Seems like a nice complimentary dessert- rhubarb pie! So glad you enjoyed the pudding!
UWSMexicanFoodie February 27, 2010
This was FANTASTIC!!
Nancy N. February 26, 2010
This sounds incredible! I've been making lavender honey lately and think I'll try making this recipe with that!
gabrielaskitchen March 2, 2010
I hop you will you be posting your recipe for the honey. How does one infuse honey with herbs? Pulverized?
Slurrpalicious February 26, 2010
Although I'm not a big fan of pine nuts, I must say that your pudding looks scrumptious. Since I haven't tried making it myself I wouldn't know this...but from the photograph it looks like it would be creamy. I would have voted for you as well, 'cause I can't make up my mind, but the site tells me I can only vote once. But anyway (Vote: Slurrpalicious)
gabrielaskitchen March 2, 2010's definitely a tough decision!
mrslarkin February 25, 2010
When serving this, it'd be nice to set the pan on charred pine branches, a la arielleclementine! That would be a showstopper. Just don't burn your house down. ;~)
gabrielaskitchen March 2, 2010
I'm going to arielleclementines recipes now to check this out...intrigued.
Kelsey B. February 25, 2010
I love the combination of citrus with the pine nuts sprinkled on top (my favorite!) - great recipe!
student E. February 25, 2010
this looks incredible! can't wait to try it out =)
gabrielaskitchen February 25, 2010
As does yours! I'm a chocolate fiend and my beau loves his bourbon! I'm giving your recipe a try very soon!
EmilyNunn February 25, 2010
Oh, my God: I have just had a bread pudding conversion. I will never compare bread pudding to Joe Lieberman again. Lovely!
gabrielaskitchen February 25, 2010
hehe. I want to hear more about this bread pudding : Joe Lieberman comparison.
Lizthechef February 25, 2010
This sounds elegant. I have a recipe that uses citrus and separates into layers but it's much less interesting. Since I'm awash in Meyer lemons, I will try them...
gabrielaskitchen February 25, 2010
Please let me know how the Meyer Lemons work out. I'm embarrased to admit I've never had one! This recipe was my way of getting a more complex citrus flavor sans the Meyers.
mrslarkin February 25, 2010
This looks and sounds amazing. It's like a big giant pignoli cookie!
gabrielaskitchen February 25, 2010
thirschfeld February 25, 2010
I can't believe I missed this I thought I looked at all the bread puddings. You bet I'll be making this, this looks great. Saving in my file right now. We have honey bees and the honey this year has citrus notes that will be great in this. Thanks for entering this recipe.
gabrielaskitchen February 25, 2010
You're so lucky to have bees! Hope you enjoy it!
coffeefoodwrite February 19, 2010
This looks very delicious. I love pine nuts -- I'm looking forward to trying this!
gabrielaskitchen February 23, 2010
Thanks, I love pine nuts too! In New Mexico we call them piñon and eat them like sunflower seeds...although they are a bit more difficult to crack with your teeth....
coffeefoodwrite March 2, 2010
I'm from New Mexico as those pinons!