Who can resist vanilla, get a double dose with this spring time dessert. Crusty bread baked in a vanilla custard combined with rhubarb and raspberry jam form an amazing custard bread pudding. Don’t stop there, add a vanilla creme anglaise to the top. It’s a show stopper.
You can make the creme anglaise in advance so all you have to do is bake the bread pudding. It’s scrumptious warm or at room temperature.
Rhubarb is showing up in the groceries, so surely Spring is on its way. One of the first fruits/vegetables to break through the ground with the promise of warm weather. It’s officially a vegetable but since people in the United States eat it as a fruit, the Customs department declared it a fruit to lower duties on it. Who knew the US government had the power to change a vegetable into a fruit.
Normally I’ll pair it with strawberries which compliment the tart flavor in strawberry rhubarb jam, or berry rhubarb crisp. However for this rhubarb custard bread pudding, I used raspberries instead and the combination is delicious.
This is the most amazing dessert, my new favorite. I‘ve always been a bread pudding fan but no bread pudding I’ve tried can even come close to this one. It’s not too mushy and not overly sweet.
Not only is the rhubarb raspberry combination great, but you infuse cream with a vanilla bean and then pour that wonderful infusion over the bread to make a custardy bread pudding.
This would also be wonderful in the dead of winter if you can find frozen rhubarb.
Pro tip: You can buy rhubarb frozen or it’s easy to freeze, just wash, dry, and cut into chunks. Rhubarb is one of those foods that freezes beautifully.
Why you’ll love this
- The vanilla custard is like eating a homemade cream pie.
- The bread pudding is soft but not mushy.
- Rhubarb and raspberries are a great combination.
- It’s not overly sweet.
- You could serve it for brunch or dessert, a great choice for Christmas morning or Easter brunch.
What you’ll need
- Rhubarb – fresh or frozen, you’ll need about 4 cups once it’s chopped. For information on when rhubarb is in season and where to find it, check out this article.
- Raspberry preserves – my favorite brand is Bonne Maman
- Vanilla Bean – one for the custard and ½ of one for the creme anglaise. You can use just vanilla extract but you won’t get that deep vanilla flavor without the vanilla bean itself.
- Bread – a loaf from the bakery section, Italian or French. It needs to be day old bread. If it’s too soft, cut it into pieces and let it sit on the counter until it dries out, or place the cut pieces in the oven for a few minutes.
- Cream and whole milk – you could use all cream but half cream and half milk is pretty decadent. You need the fat to make this a creamy custard.
- Pantry items – eggs, butter, sugar, brown sugar, and cloves.
How do you make the perfect custard bread pudding
For the rhubarb mixture. Add rhubarb to raspberry preserves and some water and cook just until the rhubarb is tender but not mushy.
Place half of the bread in a baking dish and cover with some of the rhubarb mixture.
For the custard, combine butter, cream and milk and brown sugar and scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean into it. Let it simmer, then let it cool for 15 minutes. Once slightly cooled, add it slowly to whisked eggs.
Add the rest of the bread to the baking dish and pour the custard over the top. Let it sit for 30 minutes so the custard can absorb into the bread. Finally add the remaining rhubarb over the top.
Place the baking dish inside a roasting pan and add water coming half way up the baking dish. Bake for about an hour, just until the pudding is set.
While the bread pudding is baking, cook the reserved raspberry rhubarb liquid until it has reduced by half and is slightly thickened. Pour over the bread pudding and top with ice cream.
How to serve custard bread pudding
I’m giving you two choices for a topping.
- The first is to reduce the raspberry rhubarb syrup and pour it over the baked bread pudding and then top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- However, if you really want to put this over the top, make a simple creme anglaise for the topping, The vanilla creamy topping is amazing with the slightly tart rhubarb custard pudding.
How do you make creme anglaise
As an alternative to adding the reduced rhubarb syrup to the top, an equally good topping is to make a vanilla sauce for bread pudding, or a creme anglaise. This can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Just let it come to room temperature before spooning over the bread pudding.
As you did with the custard, add milk, and cream in a saucepan and scrape the seeds of a vanilla bean into it. Let it come to a simmer and then slowly whisk it into the egg yolks and sugar and return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook this over low heat until it is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
Other foods you can enjoy creme anglaise with
FAQs and tips
When adding the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture, make sure the cream mixture is not too hot, and then gradually add it to the eggs, just a little at a time, whisking the entire time.
Cooking it in a water bath will keep it from drying out, also, remove it from the oven as soon as the custard has set. The top will golden brown and slightly crisp.
Try using a serrated knife or you can tear it into pieces.
Dry bread will absorb the custard better than fresh bread, so cut/tear it into pieces and let it sit out on the counter, or place on a baking sheet in a 250º oven for a few minutes.
Yes, just wash cut and freeze. If you want it to be easy to separate, freeze it on a cookie sheet and then once frozen place in a freezer container.
The name translates to English cream and it’s very similar to another familiar cream better known as custard.
More Spring desserts you’ll love
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Vanilla Custard Bread Pudding with Rhubarb
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup raspberry preserves 13 ounces
- 1 pound rhubarb cut inot ½ inch pieces (4 cups)
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ loaf rustic white bread 1 lb about 5 cups
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 inch vanilla bean piece
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Butter a 2 quart baking dish.
- Melt butter in a sauce pan. Add cream and milk and brown sugar. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream and add the split pod. Heat on low heat until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside until slightly cool, about 15 minutes.
- In a second saucepan, combine 1 cup of water with raspberry preserves and cook over medium-high heat unit it simmers. Add chopped rhubarb, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the rhubarb is just starting to become tender Remove from heat and set aside. You don’t want the rhubarb to be mushy.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and cloves. Remove the vanilla pods from the cream mixture and slowly whisk the milk mixture into the egg mixture.
- Layer half of the bread pieces in the prepared baking dish. With a slotted spoon, scoop out rhubarb from the liquid and layer ⅔’s of it on the bread layer. Save the remaining rhubarb and liquid. Layer the remaining bread over the rhubarb. pour the milk-egg mixture over the bread. Press down gently to help the top layer absorb the liquids.
- Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquids. Layer the remaining rhubarb over the top.
- Preheat oven to 350º. Place the baking dish inside a larger roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with enough water to reach half-way up the side of the baking dish. Bake for 1 hour, or until the pudding is set and golden brown.
- RHUBARB TOPPING: While baking, simmer the reserved liquid over high heat until reduced, about 10 minutes. Serve over the pudding.
- CREME ANGLAISE: In a saucepan combine milk and cream. Scape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream and add the pod. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar and gradually whisk the hot cream mixture into the eggs. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over Lowe heat until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- If the bread is fresh, cut it and place in a 250º oven for a few minutes to dry out.
- Be careful adding the hot liquid to eggs, add it very slowly whisking the whole time.
- You can use fresh or frozen rhubarb.
- You can make the creme anglaise a day in advance and keep refrigerated. Let it warm to room temperature before serving.
- Try using a serrated knife to cut the bread into pieces.
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