I swear, this recipe is so extra, as the kids say. I mean, who has several stale croissants just *lying around* on the regular that one would think to make bread pudding with them? Supposedly, standard bread pudding was originally invented by thrifty housewives looking to use up any food scraps that weren’t good enough to be served as-is, but really any cultures that make their own bread (nearly all of them?) have their own versions of this recipe, both savoury and sweet.
That’s why my frugal Scottish ancestry yells at me about this recipe. It’s so dang *decadent* to use a highly expensive rich bread product like croissants for such a humble dish. I admit I never would have thought to develop this recipe if it weren’t for the fact that, for one brief, shining moment in time, I worked in a green apron coffee store and was in charge of expiring out all the stale food at the end of the day.
I have a serious problem with throwing away perfectly good food, especially when I had friends who were going hungry. So, with the blessing (or at least the ostentatious wink and turned-away eye) of management, I took home as many of those croissants and other expired foods that would freeze well as I could carry. Then I made this bread pudding for me and my friend, and gifted them the rest of the bakery items for their freezer to tide them over until times were better.
It was a good day.
Croissant Bread Pudding
YIELD: 6 servings | PREP: 10 mins | BAKE: 50-60 mins | REST: 15 mins
- ½ cup/115g butter or margarine
- 1 cup/188g brown sugar, packed
- 2 cups/475mL any milk or cream, heated (can substitute with non-dairy milk) – SEE NOTES –
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp/10mL pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup/60mL maple syrup (optional; if omitting, add another ½ cup of brown sugar above)
- 1½ tsp/7.5mL mix of your favourite sweet spices (choose 3 max@½ tsp/2.5mL each):
- ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, ginger, mace, anise, allspice, star anise, etc.
- 8 stale croissants, torn into small pieces (if you have sweet-flavoured croissants such as pain au chocolat, almond, jam-filled, or otherwise, so much the better)
- 1 cup/~125g of any of the following (can mix and match):
- dried fruit, cut to size if necessary
- fresh fruit, peeled/cored and diced to size
- fresh or frozen berries
- unsalted nuts, roughly chopped
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Prepare a 2 quart baking dish by greasing heavily with butter or spraying with pan spray. Set aside.
- Cream butter & sugar together; add eggs one at a time and blend in. Add warmed milk, vanilla, maple syrup and spices, and mix well to combine.
- Place torn croissants into prepared baking dish. Pour egg mixture over the bread cubes; gently the croissants into the liquid to help it absorb. Sprinkle the raisins and nuts (if using) overtop and gently mix a few in to the lower layers.
- Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is browned and no longer bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Best served warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on a silver tray by your butler.
- You can replace up to ⅓ of the milk with different liquids for a unique flavour profile; try liquor (I recommend spiced or dark rum, amaretto, Kahlua, Cointreau or Baileys), hot brewed coffee or espresso, apple cider (add chunks of apples to the fruit of choice), or your own invention.
- The “mix and match” possibilities are endless, but here are some interesting combinations to consider:
- diced fresh apples, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg, cider or apple juice
- chopped dates, cardamom, cloves, slivered almonds, almond milk with a little Bailey’s
- field berries (fresh or frozen), nutmeg, orange zest, orange juice
- dark chocolate chips, salted chopped nuts, toffee bits
- fresh diced pears, ginger chunks in syrup, allspice, dark rum or brandy