Here is my favorite recipe for bread pudding. The actual recipe is for a Bread Pudding Souffle, (you can find it here) but instead of using the meringue for the souffle, I used it as topping.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 3 medium eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (use a high-quality extract, not an imitation)
- 5 cups day-old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (see Note)
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.
To make the bread pudding, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs until smooth, then work in the heavy cream. Add the vanilla, then the bread cubes. Allow the bread to soak up the custard. Scatter the raisins in the greased pan, and top with the egg mixture, which will prevent the raisins from burning. Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the pudding has a golden color and is firm to the touch. If a toothpick inserted in the pudding comes out clean, it is done. It should be moist, not runny or dry. Let cool to room temperature.
To make the sauce, bring the cream to a boil, combine the cornstarch and water, and add the mixture to the boiling cream, stirring constantly. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the mixture. Add the sugar and bourbon, and stir. Let cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter six 6-ounce ceramic ramekins.
To make the meringue, be certain that you use a bowl and whisk that are clean and that the egg whites are completely free of yolk. This dish needs a good, stiff meringue, and the egg whites will whip better if the chill is off them. In a large bowl or mixer, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, and continue whipping until shiny and thick. Test with a clean spoon. If the whites stand up stiff, like shaving cream, when you pull out the spoon, the meringue is ready. Do not overwhip, or the whites will break down and the soufflé will not work.
Top off the bread pudding with the meringue, to about 1 1/2 inches over the top edge of the ramekin. With a spoon, smooth and shape the tops into a dome over the ramekin rim.
Bake immediately for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Add sauce at table.