No Fail Creole Style Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Today I was asked for the basic bread pudding recipe I make, so I figured it best if I simply shared the recipe with everyone. As I’ve said before, I make a lot of bread pudding in the cafe and I have several variations to keep the customers excited, but this recipe is for simple, straightforward New Orleans bread pudding with whiskey cream sauce. Feel free to experiment with ingredients. Sometimes I leave out the raisins and instead use dried cranberries and sliced almonds. Sometimes I use blueberries and some orange marmalade. I’ve been known to make banana pecan and at times, coffee-chocolate, but the basic recipe remains the same.

 

 

 

  • 1 loaf French bread or 12 large croissants, cubed
  • 1 quart half & half
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 3 tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs with the half & half. Add the bread and fold to combine ingredients, then add the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins. Mix well. Coat a 9″x13″ glass baking dish with PAM. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the dish and drizzle the top with the melted butter. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the center is set but still moist. If bread starts to get too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Whiskey Cream Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1/4 cup quality bourbon (or rum)

Mix the butter and sugar in a double-boiler until very hot and sugar is well dissolved. In your left hand (or right if you’re left handed), slowly pour the egg and cream into the butter/sugar mixture while whisking very fast with your opposite hand. This is essentially a quicker way to “temper” the eggs so they don’t curdle. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Mixture will slightly thicken as it cools. Just before serving, whisk in the bourbon (or rum).

To serve, plate up the bread pudding and drizzle with the whiskey sauce.

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Pumpkin Pecan Bread Pudding

One thing my customers are always saying is that I make some of the best bread pudding they’ve ever eaten. I have several variations on bread pudding and try to make a pan about once a week. Blueberry, chocolate, orange-cranberry, traditional… I make whatever based on what I’ve got in the coolers and pantry.

Recently we had some croissants that were turning stale and I needed to use them. Since I’m not a true “baker”, I’ll usually look online for a recipe idea and then take off on it, because I hate following a recipe. This recipe started the same way, but because I’ve had a bumper crop of pecans from the home tree this year, I’m also looking at ways to use them in my fall cooking. This recipe can be made as a dessert or as a breakfast/brunch bread pudding. If you’re making it for the later, simply mix it up and refrigerate overnight, then bake off when you wake up.

 

  • 10 cups cubed, day-old croissants (about 5 large croissants)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups pure canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 cups half & half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs, sugars, salt and vanilla extract. Fold in the pumpkin, then add the half & half and milk. Add the cubed croissants and toss well to incorporate. The mixture should be slightly soupy and if needed, add a little more milk.

Pour mixture into a greased 9″x13″ glass baking dish. Top with pecan halves. Bake at 350 for approximately an hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out with no liquid on it. Cool on a wire rack. Best served warm but not hot! (If the pecans start to get too brown during baking, cover lightly with aluminum foil)

For a breakfast/brunch serving, simply top with pure maple syrup. If you’re serving as a dessert, mix 1 box of powdered sugar with 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice and top by dipping a wire whisk into the sugar glaze and lightly shaking it over the surface.

Glorious Morning Scratch Muffins

 

For the past few years, we have served a variety of fresh baked muffins at work and my customers have grown accustomed to a nice hot muffin. Like many foodservice establishments, we cheated. Our muffins were fresh baked, but not fresh made. We bought muffin batter that you “scooped and baked” to save time (and labor costs). Customers loved them, so it was a win-win situation.

Things changed when I switched companies recently. I had the same customers looking for their usual breakfast muffins, but our new grocery supplier offered a “less than favorable” alternative for muffin batter. My customers have not been happy, so I promised them I would make some scratch muffin batter this weekend to serve this coming week in the cafe.

Since baking is not my thing (I love to cook but I DESPISE following recipes), I had to scour magazines and internet recipes to try and find something I felt was comparable to what my customers are expecting tomorrow morning. This recipe is a tweak; I started with a basic muffin recipe and made it my own. They turned out delicious, so I thought I’d share with you this extremely easy recipe for making homemade muffins. You can use this recipe for for a variety of muffins by substituting the flavorful ingredients. In fact, I used the basic part of this recipe (as noted below) to create 5 varieties of muffins for breakfast tomorrow (Glorious Morning, Chocolate Chip, Blueberry, Banana Nut and Cranberry-Orange-Almond). I’m sharing the whole recipe for the Glorious Morning muffins which are by far my biggest seller, but noting where you can substitute to make other varieties.

There’s no need to buy muffin mix in a bag or box when most all these ingredients can be found in most of your pantries! Give them a shot! The good thing is, you can mix them up on Friday evening and refrigerate the batter. Then scoop into your muffin tins and bake Saturday morning!

Basic Muffin Batter:

  • 1 8oz container of sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla and mix for 30 seconds. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon and mix to incorporate (I use a wire whisk to mix dry ingredients). Add the dry ingredients to the wet in the mixer and run on low just long enough to incorporate into a batter. That’s your basic muffin mix.

For Glorious Morning Muffins:

To the batter add 1 peeled and diced Granny Smith apple, 1/4 cup minced carrots (I use shredded carrots and pulse them in the food processor), 1 tbsp orange marmalade, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or almonds, 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

If you wanted to make blueberry, to the batter add some fresh or thawed, frozen blueberries and add the orange marmalade.

For cranberry-orange-almond, use dried cranberries, sliced almonds and orange marmalade.

For banana nut, I use crushed pecans and 2 overly ripe bananas, smashed up with your hands or run through the food processor.

For chocolate chip, just add chocolate chip morsels straight from the bag.

Scoop muffin mix into a 12 muffin tin pan or 6 jumbo muffin pan. Bake at 325F for 18-25 minutes (depending on the size, less time for smaller muffins, more for larger) or until brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Homemade Cornbread

Until I was asked by a reader, it hadn’t occurred to me that I’ve never shared my recipe for homemade cornbread. I never realized so many people use a pack to make cornbread (not that there’s anything wrong with a pack, but if you don’t have one in your pantry you can easily make cornbread out of stock pantry items).

I’ve been making cornbread since I was a kid. I’ll never forget the recipe my grandmother gave me over the phone to make hers. It was, 2 handfuls of cornmeal, 1 handful of flour, 1 egg, a pinch of soda and enough buttermilk to make it wet. I’ve added butter to my recipe for a richer cornbread but I still use my grandmother’s recipe when making cornbread for dressing at Thanksgiving.

The trick to good southern cornbread is a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. I have several, but the 2 I use for making cornbread are an 8.5″ diameter pan (for enough for 2 people) or an 11″ diameter pan when I need enough for a few people. This recipe is using the smaller pan but I’ve made notes for the larger.

If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can still make cornbread using a muffin pan, sheet pan, etc. The advantage to the cast iron is you get a nice brown crunchy crust where a sheet pan or muffin pan will yield a more “cake like” cornbread.

First, put 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil in a room temp skillet. Put the skillet into a cold oven and preheat to 400F. While the oven and pan are preheating, mix up your cornbread as follows:

  • 2 cups hot-rise (self-rising) cornmeal (I use white but yellow works just the same)
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I have always used non-fat cultured buttermilk because my grandmother did)

Whip up well using a wire whisk.

When the oven has preheated, remove the pan and pour the hot oil into the cornbread mix. Stir well to incorporate. Sprinkle bottom of skillet with cornmeal, lightly. This will ensure the cornbread won’t stick in the case that your iron skillet is not well seasoned. Pour the batter into the skillet. You will hear it sizzle as the batter is poured in.

Bake at 400F for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and set.

If you’re using a larger pan, double the recipe. Also, if you don’t have self-rising flour and cornmeal, put a pinch (about a teaspoon) of baking soda in for a small pan or a couple of pinches for a large pan.

I’ve got a pan in the oven right now to go with the fried pork chops, mashed potatoes and fresh green limas I have cooking on the stove. Nothing like a good country Sunday dinner!

 

Ella’s Cornbread

Ella Patterson Venable was my great grandmother. She grew up on a farm in rural St. Clair county. My grandmother also grew up in rural St. Clair county in what is now the Argo community. This cornbread recipe has been handed down for several generations, along with the iron skillet I use to prepare it; a wedding gift to Ella & Webster Venable from Ella’s mother.

  • 2 cups plus 1 tbsp white cornmeal 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 pinch baking soda (not needed if you use hot-rise cornmeal or self-rising flour)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Non-fat cultured buttermilk (approximately 2 cups)
  • 2 tbsp oil
Add oil to a well-seasoned iron skillet (a metal baking pan will do, but you don’t get the dark, fried crust) and place in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 400F with the pan in the oven.
In a mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups meal, flour, soda (if needed), egg and buttermilk. The buttermilk measurement is an approximate; you want to add enough buttermilk to make the mixture resemble thick pancake batter. It should be pourable but not runny.
When the oven has preheated, remove the pan from the oven and pour the oil into the batter. Stir well to incorporate. Dust the pan with the 1 remaining tablespoon of cornmeal, then pour in the batter. You should hear the batter sizzle as it hits the hot pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Invert on to a plate and enjoy with a pat of butter and slice of onion!