I had never made bread pudding until yesterday, when I made this, which isn’t even traditional bread pudding. I had always wanted to make it, I mean, bread and pudding are both quite scrumptious all by themselves, so they must be great together. I’ve seen recipes for pumpkin bread pudding, corn bread pudding, chocolate bread pudding, and so many more, yet this one is different from all of them. It is a soufflé, into which you fold bread pudding, and unlike most other recipes, gluten-free seems the better choice here.
Yesterday I made the decision to try both gluten and gluten-free versions of the recipe. The book the recipe comes from is, “A Table for Two,” and so the amount produced isn’t a whole lot, just two servings (I’d argue four). For this reason, I figured I could double it to try out both. I made the gluten version first, with a baguette that was two days old. The recipe called for one day old bread and I think this might have had an effect. The bread never soaked up enough of the cream, and when baked never was as soft as I would have liked. On the other hand, the gluten-free rice bread, with basically no crust, broke down and was very nice in the end. Take note that I didn’t actually try the gluten-free version but all of the members of my family really enjoyed it, and my mother, who could try both, preferred the gluten-free.
Now, this recipe originally called for the soufflé to be baked in one 3-cup baking dish, but I found that the soufflés rose much better when cooked in four 6-ounce ramekins. I never figured out the timing exactly, but taking them out when well-browned and puffed seemed to work. I also didn’t add raisins to the gluten-free version, to encourage my brothers to try it, though I think I prefer raisins. Finally, the recipe called for baking the bread pudding in an 8 by 4 inch loaf pan first, but I did this for the gluten pudding and I think it was too dry. For the gluten-free I baked it basically in a bowl, and when it came out, it was much softer, which I think helped the end result.
Bread Pudding Soufflé with Bourbon Custard Sauce
Adapted from the recipe at Commander’s Palace in “A Table for Two”
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups day-old bread cubes (recipe says French, Italian, or Challah, but I think Challah would be preferable)~If you decide to use gluten-free bread, you should probably use a little more, like a cup and a half. I used four slices of light brown rice bread (slices are very small) that was store bought for this recipe.
3 tablespoons raisins
3 large egg whites at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
Bourbon Custard Sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons bourbon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a small baking dish that will fit the bread pudding without having to spread it out very thinly. On the bottom of the baking dish, place the 3 tablespoon of raisins.
Beat the egg with the heavy cream, 1/4 cup of the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Then add the bread cubes and stir around to coat. For my gluten version, with my especially old bread, the liquid wasn’t even soaked up after 10 minutes, but with the gluten-free bread it was soaked up after 3 minutes, so just wait until the liquid the liquid is all soaked up. I didn’t wait long enough with my gluten bread and it as still a bit crusty at the end. The time will depend on your bread.
The original recipe calls for you to bake the pudding until a tester comes out almost clean. To me, this seems like it might be too long, if your bread really soaked up a lot at the beginning. I’d say, take it out when slightly browned but when it still looks a little underdone. Depending on the size of you pan, this time will vary; for the gluten-free that was about 25 minutes in a very small pan. the gluten, baked in a much larger pan was overdone at 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Then, in a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until frothy on medium. Turn up the mixer to high and continue to beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar gradually, until stiff peaks form.
Break up half of the bread pudding into very small pieces, and place in a large bowl. remove about 1/4 of the egg whites fold them into the pudding. Crumble up the rest of the bread pudding and add it along with the rest of the egg whites. Fold in the rest of the egg whites gently.
Butter four 6-ounce ramekins and coat the insides with sugar. Scoop the bread pudding and egg-whites into each of the ramekins so that the mixture goes over the top of the ramekin.
Place the ramekins in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (an approximation) or until browned and somewhat puffed up.
Boil the 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the cornstarch with the water and when dissolved, add to the cream, and cook for another minute. Add the sugar along with the bourbon off the heat, and then return to the stove to simmer for two or three minutes, thinning with water if the sauce gets too thick.
When the soufflés leave the oven, poke holes in them and pour a little of the custard sauce in each, making sure to leave some extra to eat with it.