I’ve been wanting to make bread pudding for a while, and finally found an excuse when a friend invited me over to his home for a potluck. I decided to update my traditional bread pudding recipe with a few twists – like using traditional Filipino dinner rolls (pan de sal) instead of white bread or challah, and adding in a few of my favorite warm spices – star anise, cardamom and cinnamon. The spices are optional – this is still delicious with just the vanilla bean – but I always keep random spices around, so I decided to play with them here. You could also try adding ground cinnamon or nutmeg to the custard mixture – start with 1/4 tsp and taste to adjust.
I also decided to throw in a little brown butter, because brown butter. The brown butter step is optional – you can omit the butter completely. But why? I mean… brown butter.
You’ll need raisins, pan de sal, cream, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, a vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, star anise and green cardamom.
I decided to add in cardamom, star anise and a cinnamon stick in addition to the vanilla bean. The spices are totally optional, but the vanilla bean is not.
Good news is, even though vanilla beans are expensive, you can dry it off and use it to flavor something else – I like to put my used vanilla beans in jars of white sugar. Vanilla sugar makes everything you put it in just a teeeny tiiiiny bit more special.
In a medium bowl, combine raisins, 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp sugar and 1/4 cup of whiskey.
Microwave for 1 minute, then let raisins soak for 30 minutes.
Look how deliciously plump they are now! And slightly boozy! Yay for boozy raisins. Set aside.
Add cream and 1 cup of milk to a medium sauce pan, over medium heat.
Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Use the tip of the knife to scrape out the beans. Add the beans and the vanilla pod to the milk and cream mixture.
Using the backside of a spoon or the side of a heavy knife, crack the cardamom pods a bit. It’s okay if they don’t open completely – we just want to expose the seeds. Add to the milk and cream mixture.
Heat the milk, cream and spices over medium heat just until it begins to get steam and just starts to bubble. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let steep for 30 minutes.
Cut the pan de sal into 1″ cubes.
Day-old bread usually works better for bread pudding – it’s lost some moisture so it will absorb more of the custard. I had fresh pan de sal, so I threw it on a cookie sheet at 350F for 15 minutes to dry it out a bit. You can skip this step if you’re using day-old / stale bread. Place the bread in the buttered casserole dish and set aside.
Brown the butter – place 1/2 cup of butter in a small sauce pan and cook over medium heat until it begins to smell nutty and turn brown.
Keep an eye on it though – this can easily turn into black butter.
Pour the brown butter over the cubed pan de sal.
Don’t forget to scrape those tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan you browned the butter in – that’s the “brown” in brown butter. Toss the bread to coat.
After the milk and cream have steeped, strain the spices out of the mixture into a large bowl. Don’t forget to save the vanilla bean!
Add the eggs, remaining milk and sugar to the spiced milk + cream mixture. Pour over the pan de sal.
Sprinkle the raisins over the bread and custard – make sure they’re distributed evenly. Let the bread and custard mixture sit for 30 minutes, pushing the bread down into the custard every few minutes to ensure even absorption.
Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes – checking after 45 minutes. Bake longer if needed, checking every 5 minutes. Mine took 50 minutes.
Tada! The pudding puffs up a bit and browns.
MMMM, I said! The crunchy pieces on top are my faaaavorite.
Top with whipped cream, powdered sugar or creme fraiche.
I may or may not have just stood over the stove with a spoon. :X
Brown Butter Pan de Sal Bread Pudding with Whiskey-Soaked Raisins
Recipe type: Dessert
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup whiskey (I used Jack Daniels)
- 9 pan de sal rolls, cut into 1-inch cubes (8-9 cups of bread, see note below)
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
- 1 star anise (optional)
- 6 green cardamom pods, cracked (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 eggs, beaten
- In a small bowl, combine raisins, 1/2 cup of water, 2 tbsp sugar and whiskey. Microwave for 1 minute and let steep for 30 minutes. After steeping, strain from liquid and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, combine heavy cream and 1 cup of milk over medium heat. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape down the seeds. Add vanilla beans and pod to the milk and cream, along with star anise, cinnamon stick and cracked cardamom pods. Stir to combine, and heat mixture until it becomes steamy and barely starts to bubble. Remove from heat, cover, and let the spices steep in the milk for 30 minutes. After steeping, strain mixture (save the vanilla bean, dry it off and throw it in a container of sugar for vanilla sugar!) into a large bowl. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F and lightly butter a 9×13 inch casserole dish. Place your cubed pan de sal in the dish and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 cup of butter over medium heat until it begins to brown and smell nutty, about 8-10 minutes. Pour the browned butter over the pan de sal and toss to coat. - don't forget the brown bits of butter at the bottom of the pan, that's the tasty part!
- In the large bowl with the strained milk + cream mixture, add in remaining milk, eggs, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the cubed pan de sal. Sprinkle the whiskey-soaked raisins over the bread and custard mixture, making sure the raisins are evenly distributed throughout. Set aside for 30 minutes, allowing the bread soak up the custard mixture. Press down the bread pieces every few minutes to ensure all pieces are absorbing the custard.
- Bake at 350F for 45-60 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out clean. If it's still a bit jiggly after 45 minutes, bake longer, checking every 5 minutes. The pudding should be slightly puffed and browned. Serve hot, warm or room temperature with powdered sugar, whipped cream or creme fraiche.
If you're using super fresh bread, you can lightly toast the cubed bread for 15 minutes in a 350F oven. It'll dry the bread out a bit and allow for more of the custard to be absorbed. If you're using day-old / stale bread, you can skip this step.)