Despite best intentions and multiple alarms, I will simply never be the pearl-wearing brunch hostess who pulls a perfectly timed soufflé from the oven. Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce reminds me that my style of hosting—fervently praying the guests are late while shoveling crumbs under the rug—is completely acceptable.
I come from a long line of pro-holiday meal planners. My Grammy writes her entire menu on individual index cards, creates a multi-week timeline, then preps most of the dishes in advance. My mom never runs out of ingredients and is always poised to greet her guests with a cocktail. Neither of these women has ever been caught hiding dirty dishes in the pantry two minutes before the party begins, and both serve multi-course meals fit for the cover of Southern Living.
Clearly the genes of a well-organized hostess reside within me, and Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce is my missing link to the family party-planning prowess.
Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce is the ideal breakfast for the hurried holiday hostess (or any weekend you’re feeling lazy), because it can be prepped entirely in advance. The night before, whisk together the eggs, milk, and gingerbread spices. Pour them over the toasted bread cubes, then bake when you wake. Even better, freeze unbaked Gingerbread Bread Pudding, and you’ll have a decadent, comforting breakfast ready on command. Four days before my friends came for brunch, I prepped and froze Gingerbread Bread Pudding, then popped it into the oven just before my pals arrived. Ta-dah! A from-scratch breakfast, with zero day-of effort. I might even tackle a soufflé next time. Let’s bust out the pearls.
To be honest, I’m actually envisioning you in your footie pajamas (not pearls) joying a big plate of Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce. No, it’s not weird that I’m thinking about you in your footie pajamas. I own a pair myself.
Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce is rich, deeply spiced, and bursting with cozy holiday flavors. Every bite reminded me of afternoons spent baking pies with my grandma, writing letters to Santa, or watching afternoon football games with my uncles to work off our holiday food comas. Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce fuses the comforting memories of childhood—the extra gingerbread cookie grandma sneaks into your bag—with a grown-up appreciation for layers of flavor: golden raisins, toasty pecans, spicy sweet crystallized ginger, and a little extra spirit (ahem, bourbon.)
Think bread pudding is for dessert-only? I petition that bread pudding is essentially a gussied-up French toast bake. As with my Supreme French Toast Bake, I lightened up our Gingerbread Bread Pudding by swapping out the heavy cream for non-fat evaporated milk and reducing the quantity of the sugar. (Don’t worry—it’s still plenty sweet.) The results exceeded my every expectation. Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce is rich in flavor with a creamy texture and toasty topping. I also lightened up the Bourbon Sauce (which tastes even better than it sounds), so feel liberated to ladle on that dreamy nectar with abandon.
For a stress-free holiday breakfast, combine make-ahead recipes like Gingerbread Bread Pudding with simple dishes you can pull together quickly in the morning.
With its holiday flavor, make-ahead ease, and dash of spirit, Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce is the ideal addition to your holiday breakfast menu.
Bake individual Gingerbread Bread Puddings as I did here, or create one giant pan of Gingerbread Bread Pudding bliss. When you raise your spoon to dig in, relish the fact that you both baked a decadent homemade breakfast and hit the snooze.
This kind of victory calls for pearls. Or footie pajamas. Either way, I like your style.
Gingerbread Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
For the Bread Pudding:
- 6 cups French bread ½ inch-cubes, lightly packed (about 10 ounces)
- 3/4 cup non-fat evaporated milk
- 3/4 cup non-fat milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 3 tablespoons bourbon, any brand you like to drink; I'm a fan of Bulleit
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup minced crystalized ginger
- 1/3 cup toasted chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
For the Bourbon Sauce:
- 1/3 cup non-fat evaporated milk or substitute whipped cream or half and half if you are feeling decadent
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 2 tablespoons non-fat plain yogurt
- Place rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Arrange bread in a single layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. (Alternatively, you can let bread cubes sit out overnight.) To bake individual bread puddings: Lightly spritz a muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper liners. (Alternatively, you can use 6, 6-ounce lightly greased ramekins or 6 ungreased mini panettone papers.) To bake a single bread pudding: Lightly spritz a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
- Meanwhile for the bourbon sauce: Place a deep mixing bowl, beaters, and the ⅓ cup evaporated milk in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the ¾ cup evaporated milk, non-fat milk, eggs, brown sugar, molasses, bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, all spice, cloves and salt. Add bread cubes, ginger, pecans, and raisins. Let mixture stand 20 minutes, stirring the bread occasionally to ensure all cubes soak up the milk.
- To bake bread pudding immediately: Fill prepared pan(s) nearly to the top, gently pressing to compact. (If baking with ramekins or mini panettone papers, set the baking dishes atop a baking sheet prior to placing in the oven.) To freeze and bake: Wrap the filled pan(s) tightly with plastic wrap, then foil, and freeze for up to 3 weeks. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then bake as directed.
- Bake at 350 degrees F until deep golden brown on top and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean: 20-25 minutes for muffin cups; 30-35 minutes for ramekins or mini panettones; 43-47 minutes for a single loaf pan.
- To prepare sauce: While the bread pudding is in the oven, beat evaporated milk in the chilled bowl on high for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is the consistency of whipped cream. Gradually add sugar, bourbon, and yogurt and beat for several minutes longer, until thickened. Serve over warm bread pudding.
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