Use up stale bread and help avoid food waste with our very easy chocolate chip bread pudding recipe!
As a kid, one of my favourite desserts, and one that I perceived as a big treat, was a my mom's bread pudding! It wasn't one that graced our dinner table often so it always seemed special when we had it.
Little did I know that bread pudding was my mom's secret, super stealthy way of getting rid of stale bread!
Back in the 70's and 80's my mom ran an extremely efficient kitchen - nothing was wasted. She composted all our scraps before there was curbside pickup (and recycled everything too - it would all get packed into the back of the station wagon once a month and be hauled down to the community recycling depot). The compost was reinvested into our vegetable garden. Meat and veggie scraps were turned into soup stocks and stale bread became a delicious, seemingly decadent dessert!
The Ins and Outs of Bread Pudding
What is Bread Pudding?
Bread Pudding is a dessert that can be traced back to 11th century England with frugal roots. It's a very easy way to get rid of your stale bread scraps! Like many "puddings," I associate it with my English mom and her stable of English pudding recipes she brought with her to Canada like sherry trifle, rice pudding and sticky toffee pudding. Pure comfort foods to me!
A sweet bread pudding has a very basic, simple list of ingredients you likely always have on hand. The base recipe is a blank canvas and you can make it your own by what you choose to add to it - my mom always put raisins in hers but I've made it with blueberries, cherries, peaches and, in today's version, with chocolate chips!
What Can You Serve Bread Pudding With?
Just as the choice of add-ins to bread pudding is limitless, so is what you can serve it with. Ice cream, caramel sauce, a drizzle of maple syrup, heavy cream, whipped cream, a fruit compote - all are delicious ways to top this dish, which is best served warm.
Should You Refrigerate Bread Pudding?
In the unlikely event that you have leftovers, I would definitely refrigerate them. The dish is best served warm but once it's cooled down to room temperature, you'll want to pop it in the fridge. I would reheat any leftovers in the microwave or in the oven before serving (although it's not bad cold either - but your ice cream won't melt into it if it's not warm!).
Additional Tips For Making Your First Bread Pudding
- the recipe requires 3-5 cups of stale bread, which is a lot. Don't panic! Simply toss your stale bits of bread into a bag in your freezer until you have enough to make the recipe
- while you can refrigerate bread pudding leftovers, you'll want to eat them within a day or they can get very soggy, very quickly
- don't use an electric mixer for this dessert - it will work much better if you mix everything by hand
- 3-5 cups of diced leftover bread - stale bread is fine
- 3 cups of milk of your choice. I've used both 2% and cashew milk with success
- 3 eggs
- ⅓ cup of sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp salt
- grated rind and juice of ½ a large lemon
- ½ cup of chocolate chips (or a add-on substitute of your choice like raisins, blueberries etc)
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- preheat oven to 350F
- in a large bowl, soak the bread in the milk for 15 minutes
- meanwhile, beat together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a separate bowl
- add the lemon juice and rind, the chocolate chips and the nutmeg to the egg mixture and whisk the ingredients together
- add the entire egg mixture to the bread and milk mixture and combine together
- pour the entire mixture into a casserole dish
- take a large, high rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan (that's bigger than your casserole dish) and fill it with about ½ an inch of hot water (this will be a water bath for your casserole dish!)
- place the casserole dish into the roasting pan and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes.
- serve warm and top with ice cream, heavy cream, a caramel sauce or your topping of choice!