Don’s Bourbon Pecan Bread Pudding
You can read about Don in At Home. When we catered the first Jambalaya Jam for 65,000 “guests” to open Philadelphia’s Great Plaza, we named our bread pudding for Don. Don’s legacy continues here. Serve warm and consider adding some vanilla ice cream on the side.
In order to make 1” cubes, buy your bread unsliced – from a good bakery. For my test I bought a hardy large loaf of wonderful Metropolitan Bakery sandwich bread. You could use a country loaf or baguette. Just make sure the bread has a neutral character. If you can only get sliced bread, make sure it is a high quality – at a minimum, challah-style or Pepperidge Farm. Just cut into smaller cubes.
Do Ahead You can make the bread/custard mix up to two days in advance and bake just before serving or fully bake up to three days in advance and reheat in 300 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.
1 1/2 cup pecans, whole or pieces
3 quarts 1-inch cubed good quality bread
2 tablespoons butter, softened, to grease the baking dish
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup Bourbon
1 Let cubed bread sit overnight to dry or place on baking sheet in 300 degree oven until dry but not brown. This could take 30-45 minutes, depending on moisture of bread.
2 Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place pecans on cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until toasted. Remove and allow to cool.
3 Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle shelf.
4 Generously butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. I used a 9” x 12” Pyrex dish.
5 In a large bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until evenly combined. Gradually whisk in heavy cream, vanilla, bourbon and salt. Add bread and mix well allowing bread to fully soften and absorb custard. This could take 3/4 to 1 hour. Add 3/4 cup pecans to bread mixture.
6 Pour mixture into the baking dish, pressing bread down. Spread remaining pecans over top. Bake for about 60-75 minutes until pudding set and top is lightly browned. The center of the bread pudding will puff up slightly and feel firm to the touch when it’s done. You can test it by dipping a small spoon into the center and extracting a sample. If it’s liquidy, continue baking a bit more.
Yield Serves 8-12