Superb Cranberry Bread Pudding
File this one under both “family recipe” and “amazeballs”. This cranberry bread pudding is a Christmas morning tradition of my husband’s family that I am so glad to have stumbled into. I had plenty of great reasons for marrying him anyway- but I’m not going to lie, this is one heck of a bonus. By the way, I don’t just make this on Christmas morning (I have needs, you know), and you shouldn’t either.
Now, I know that, for the most part, bread puddings generally follow a basic formula of bread, eggs, milk, some cinnamon. This bread pudding, a recipe acquired many years ago by my mother-in-law from a rubenesque farmer’s wife (so you know it’s good), blows all other bread puddings out of the water. It has a thin, velvet-y, dreamy cheesecake layer on top. Don’t even try telling me you don’t want that.
(by the way, isn’t this pyrex adorbs?)
Two things about ingredients. Firstly, the kind of bread you want for this is the “french bread” from your grocery store’s bakery. It’s not a real french bread, it’s not a baguette- it’s the poofy, oblong bread with the shiny, crackly crust and the super tender crumb. The kind that you’d use to make a loaf of garlic bread for a church spaghetti fundraiser. You know what I mean? Sure you do. If you don’t, then any soft boule or challah will do. Secondly, because of my searing detestation of raisins (AKA culinary cockroaches), since 2008 this recipe has been made with dried cranberries, instead. Which is really much more seasonal anyhow. You are, I guess, free to use regular raisins if that’s your thing. Just don’t tell me about it. You do you.
As a final note, and I hope you won’t judge us chubby Hendricksons too harshly for this, we like to top our individual portions with a drizzle (or possibly more…) of half-and-half.
- 1 loaf of "french" bread
- softened butter
- 1/2 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 t. nutmeg
- 3/4 c. sweetened dried cranberries
- 3 c. milk
- 4 eggs, divided
- 1 c. sugar, divided
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1/8 t. salt
- 1 8 oz. package cream cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13" pyrex baking dish.
- Spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Cut the buttered slices into cubes, and spread half the cubes evenly in the baking dish.
- Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon and nutmeg, and then the cranberries. Layer the rest of the bread cubes over the cranberries and then sprinkle with the rest of the cinnamon and nutmeg.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the milk, 3 of the eggs, 1/2 c. sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat well. Pour over the bread. Use a spatula or spoon to lightly press down on the bread so everything is moist.
- Beat together the cream cheese, remaining 1/2 c. sugar, and 1 egg until smooth. Dollop evenly over bread pudding and then spread out gently with a spatula.
- Bake 45 minutes, or until puffy and set in the middle.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.