I’m a bread pudding convert. For years, I stayed away from it because it just didn’t sound right to me to have soggy bread as a dessert, plus it seemed to have so many unnecessary calories and fat from all the butter and whole milk. I’m not sure when the change came, but I remember going to a cafe with my friend Karen a few years ago in Old Town Orange, in which she proceeded to order the Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding for our dessert.
“Bread pudding?!” I thought, but decided it was time to try it for once. And when I tried it, I mean, wow. It wasn’t soggy at all, but custardy, rich, and totally sinful - the both of us agreed that we couldn’t have more than a few bites since it’s goodness spurred feelings of guilt. Then, when I was in San Francisco visiting my friend Meesh, we had it for dessert at this restaurant, Town, in San Carlos, where it was lusciously topped off with a generous amount of maple-brandy sauce and creme anglaise.
Okay, so that’s twice I’ve had bread pudding in my life, and now I love it, but I wouldn’t dare order it regularly and would rather do without all that extra fat and calories that could be more than the equivalent of a cheeseburger. I mean, even Whole Foods has a recipe for bread pudding, but it’s loaded with 20 grams of fat per serving! Let’s not even try to guess what was in that bread pudding I had at Old Town Orange, much less other restaurants. You should always share dessert when eating out for that reason! So today, I set out to make a bread pudding that was not skimpy on the flavor and texture, but lower on the calorie and fat ladder.
And I must say, this is some hit-the-spot bread pudding. It’s perfectly custardy and moist without being soggy. I made my custard base out of eggs, non-fat milk plus a little half-and-half for that richness. I used Oroweat Hawaiian sweet bread, which has only 100 calories and 2 grams of fat per slice. No way would I use whole-wheat or whole-grain bread here - I wanted this to taste like the real thing and have a similar texture as if I had used challah or brioche without all the fat. And look at the nutrition facts near the end of this recipe. Woohoo!!!! So minimal in fat and a fraction of the calories in regular restaurant desserts! You can top it off with a small dollop of vanilla ice cream or whatever, but I prefer mine as is, since it’s so good hot out of the oven. Just don’t burn your tongue trying to eat it so fast like I did!
Cinnamon and Raisin Bread Pudding
6 slices (1/2-inch-thick) slices of Oroweat Hawaiian Sweet Bread, or buttermilk bread
2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup (or 1.5 ounce box) seedless raisins
2 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup nonfat (skim) milk
1/4 cup half-and-half (don’t use the fat-free kind)
Nonstick cooking spray
special equipment needed: 6 4-ounce rammekins
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Arrange 6 4-ounce rammekin cups on a baking sheet and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. With a bread knife, cut the bread into small squares, about 4 cuts crosswise and 3 cuts lengthwise (you can cut out the crust if you like, but I left mine in there because my bread had soft crusts on them). Place the bread squares into a medium bowl; toss with cinnamon and raisins. Set aside.
3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt, nonfat milk, and half-and-half. When thoroughly combined, add the bread cube mixture, and gently fold to evenly soak the bread cubes.
4. Spoon an even amount of the bread pudding mixture into each rammekin cup. Bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of an individual rammekin comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes; serve immediately.