We buy unsliced bread and often find ourselves with stale odds and ends. It’s no tragedy for sure. French toast is always an option or a simple bread pudding. Still, there are times when I’d rather challenge myself to use more than just eggs, milk and cinnamon. And so, Crispy Loaded Bread Pudding became our dessert this past weekend.
“Loaded” seemed the right shorthand for this bread pudding. Like a loaded baked potato, it takes the simple base and adds on delicious toppings – in this case almonds and cracker or cookie crumbs. The base is more like my friend Nancy’s apple chocolate chip cake than a bread pudding – with chunks of apple studded throughout. And with Amaretto, almond extract, and slivered almonds, the pudding has a layer of almond flavoring that makes it stand out from the bread pudding crowd.
I wanted crispy loaded bread pudding to be more cake-like than the typical bread pudding. It is, of course, the cook’s prerogative, to turn the recipe in whatever direction she or he desires. My taste runs to crispy and dry over mushy and moist. Perhaps it’s not fair to use mushy as an antonym for crispy, but what can you expect from a woman who thinks that oatmeal tastes like wallpaper paste?
Anyway, my beloved is a huge fan of oatmeal and other mushy stuff. I suppose we’re yin and yang on this aspect of food preferences. Anyway, as he took his first bite, he clearly thought I should have tweaked the recipe. Trying to be kind yet honest, he remarked “how about some ice cream with this?” I’ve never objected to ice cream, however we didn’t have any in the freezer. (Now that’s a tragedy!)
In order to accommodate him as best I could under the circumstances, I pulled together a quick and simple sauce for the bread pudding by boiling down apple cider. I heard no complaints as he poured it on his portion and scarfed down the bread pudding.
If you prefer a moister version of bread pudding, add a bit more liquid (1 more egg and another 1/4 cup of milk), serve it with ice cream, or try my simple apple cider sauce. The bread pudding needs to time to sit before baking, allowing the bread to absorb the liquid. You can make the bread pudding, refrigerating it during the “resting time,” so it’s a great make-ahead dish for dinner or a brunch buffet.
Notes About Crispy Loaded Bread Pudding Ingredients
- Eggs – I use brown and white eggs interchangeably, never paying more for brown ones. (Some stores hike up the price of brown eggs over white.) Here’s why.
- Almond Extract – Are you an ingredient snob? I was when it comes to almond and other extracts until I had my son and some of his friends do a taste test. Here’s what we found out.
- Bread – Use any type of bread in the pudding, as long as the flavor is not savory and the crust is not too dense. I used a combination of challah and baguette, cutting off the hardest parts of the baguette crust.
- Liqueur – The common wisdom about all the alcohol cooking off during cooking is wrong. Although most of the time, much or all of the alcohol will evaporate or burn off, some is likely to be retained in the bread pudding. Therefore if you want an alcohol-free bread pudding, substitute another liquid such as apple juice or cider for the Amaretto. Do not add extra almond extract as that flavoring is quite strong and a tablespoon would be overwhelming.