Recipe for Ciabatta Bread and Butter Pudding
A Dessert as Yummy as It Is Easy to Make
I love bread pudding. I'll eat it warm, cold, doesn't matter. If you haven't had it, but you like French toast, then perhaps it's time you gave it a whirl (I say this because it contains the same ingredients and tastes quite similar). It's so easy to make that you might as well give that a try too.
The Perfect Bread Makes the Perfect Bread Pudding
There is a bit of science to making a great bread pudding, but you don't have to be a scientist. The success to this dessert is in the bread. You don't want to use fresh bread. This creates a bread pudding conundrum much like it's cousin, the banana bread conundrum. I always crave homemade banana bread when my bananas aren't ripe enough or I don't even have any. However, it can be a little easier to procure hard (almost stale) bread than some beat-up bananas.
- 1 Ciabatta baguette, sliced into smaller pieces
- 4 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups milk
A Teaspoon of Advice
Visit your local bakery and get your hands on whatever bread has to be sold that day. It's not fresh which means you're in luck and also means you'll usually pay a discounted price. I did exactly this and wound up with a pre-sliced ciabatta baguette for 75 cents (versus over five dollars when fresh). Ciabatta can be a drier and crispier bread by nature, and when it comes to bread pudding, ciabatta only gets better as the days go by. Using the right bread at the right time is so important because it needs to successfully absorb the pudding ingredients. If it's too fresh, it will be moist and unable to fully absorb the pudding sauce. The drier the bread is, the better. Think of a sponge. It can't slurp up any water if it's already soaked full, but a bone-dry sponge will certainly do the trick. The same applies to this recipe.
- Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Grease a 9"x13" glass baking dish.
- Cut Ciabatta baguette into slices and smaller pieces and arrange in baking dish. I used clean cooking scissors to vertically cut my slices in half. I loved the shape of the bread and didn't want to lose the beauty of it by cutting it into unnoticeable smithereens.
- In mixing bowl, combine ingredients well. Pour mixture over arranged bread in pan. Use spatula or spoonula to coax out your cinnamon if it has settled. Flatten and rearrange pieces of bread where necessary to keep your display looking even and attractive. This will also ensure even baking.
- Sprinkle a little cinnamon over the top and let set for five minutes. This step is as important as the bread itself. It needs time to soak up the delicious mixture before it begins baking. After five minutes, flip over the top layer of your ciabatta pieces/slices so that the cinnamon you just sprinkled is on the underside. Sprinkle cinnamon on your "new" top layer and allow to sit for another five minutes. (If you have more than two layers, don't worry about doing anything special to the bottom-most layer(s). I only do this to the top so I don't wind up with unbearable-to-chew cinnamon croutons).
- Bake at 325° F for 50-60 minutes. A knife or toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. If not, bake longer. Cool on rack for 30 minutes. Don't hurry this step. It needs time to "set" just like it needed time to soak.
- Enjoy! Serve warm or cold. I love it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
One More Tip
Don't worry if it looks like your dessert isn't "doing anything" for the first 30-40 minutes. It might seem like it's just sitting there—a bunch of bread in liquid. About half-way through, you'll notice your dessert expand, start to boil, and really begin to evolve into more than just bread and liquid.
Heather Says: This is a great desert that will save you time and money but no one will know it! You can make it in advance and it keeps wonderfully. All of the ingredients are items I usually have on hand, and the discounted day-old bread never breaks the bank. You can dress this up with toppings or sides like whipped cream, ice cream, or fresh fruit. This ciabatta bread pudding is super affordable to make, super easy to pull off, and super duper yummy. Enjoy!