Bread pudding, a staple dessert in New Orleans cuisine, has a history that is as rich and diverse as the city itself. The origins of bread pudding can be traced back to the early 11th and 12th centuries in Europe, where it was primarily a means of using stale bread to avoid wastage. Cooks would soak the stale bread in milk or water, and then mix it with other available ingredients like sugar, fats, and sometimes dried fruit, to make a simple, filling dish. This practical and economical dish eventually spread across Europe and each region added its own local flavors and ingredients to the basic recipe.
When the recipe for bread pudding reached New Orleans, a city known for its unique blend of French, Spanish, African, and Caribbean cultures, it transformed into something even more special. Local chefs in New Orleans began incorporating ingredients readily available in the area, such as French bread, which is crustier and more substantial than the softer breads used in European versions. They also started adding local spices and flavors, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, to enhance the taste. The most significant addition, however, was the introduction of a sweet, rich whiskey or rum sauce, often served warm over the pudding. This New Orleans-style bread pudding quickly became a beloved dessert, symbolizing the city’s culinary creativity and its ability to blend various cultural influences into its food.
Watch Harriet Make This Recipe on WWL with Malik Mingo: https://www.wwltv.com/video/
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl, add milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar, and melted butter. Whisk together until combined.
Break or cut stale French bread into small chunks and add to the bowl of wet ingredients. Gently press bread down into liquid, occasionally stirring the mixture gently so as not to mash the bread. Allow to soak for 10-15 minutes.
Gently fold pineapple, coconut, cinnamon, and nutmeg until combined.
Pour into a 9x12 baking dish, spray baking dish prior to adding mixture. Shake an even layer of Sweet Treat over the top of the bread pudding. Place in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the custard is fully set.
Serve warm with hard sauce.
Makes 15-18 Servings
Cream butter and sugar over medium heat until butter is absorbed.
Remove from heat, blend in egg yolk.
Add rum gradually, stir constantly.
Sauce will thicken as it cools, and serve warm over bread pudding.
For a variety of sauces, just substitute your favorite whiskey instead of rum.