Saturday, April 14, 2012

Butterscotch Bagel Bread Pudding

That's a lot of B's, right? But what a great title for a simply delicious dessert. I mean, when a confection combines butterscotch, bagels, bread, and pudding, what's not to love?

In fact, there are few desserts so wonderfully satisfying as a thick, rich, and solidly sweet bread pudding. Supermodel of the dessert world it isn't, but its indulgently creamy texture and syrupy sweetness belie its rugged and wholesome appearance.  Paired with a drizzle of cream or a few warm spoonfuls of sunny yellow Bird's Custard, this family favorite is as comforting as a warm embrace.

Bread pudding may be the food equivalent of fuzzy slippers (right up there with cookie dough and macaroni and cheese), but it's also a blank canvas. Switch out bread for bagels and raisins for butterscotch chips and you've got a whole new dessert - one that mixes salty and sweet, crisp and custardy.

You may be thinking that bread pudding is traditionally a winter recipe - and you'd be mostly right - but it's also an Eastertime favorite of mine and, given the chilly turn of the weather over the past few days, a welcome addition to my dinner (or breakfast - don't judge!) table. I love traditional versions that slip in generous handfuls of raisins alongside a liberal dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg, but this particular recipe is a new twist on those old favorites.

Bagel pieces replace most of the bread, which gives the pudding a nice crisp top, while cooked butterscotch custard stands in for the more seasonally spiced version, lending this dessert a more intense milky sweetness. It's a great combination to be sure, but the best part of this recipe is the smell during baking. I couldn't believe how rich and warm it was, each breath brimming with the scent of cream, sugar, and vanilla - it rivals Cinnabon in crave-inducing power (and anyone who's ever walked a mall or airport knows that siren song!).

I dare you to make this recipe and not be tempted to devour it all at the first scent of doneness. If by some feat of superhuman strength you manage to resist, the final product is heavenly when eaten warm from the oven, and equally lovely eaten in thick, cold slices. It might be even better eaten straight from the pan...with a spoon...for breakfast. Don't worry, I promise I won't tell.

Butterscotch Bagel Bread Pudding
makes one loaf pan-sized pudding (double it for an 8x8)

3 bagels, torn into 1" pieces
1-2 pieces bread, torn into 1" pieces, as needed to fill pan
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups milk or cream (I used lightly sweetened almond milk)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons butterscotch chips
Brown sugar for topping

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a loaf pan and fill with bagel and bread pieces (remember that the pudding will 'settle' as it cooks, so you want the pan to be quite full, but with enough room remaining for at least two cups of liquid).

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs (you may wish to increase the sugar slightly if you're using regular milk - or you can increase the butterscotch chips to reach the desired sweetness). Heat the milk in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, until just before it begins to boil. Stir occasionally to prevent burning or the formation of a skin.

Pour the hot milk gradually into the egg mixture to temper it, stirring as you pour. Stir until all of the milk is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. While still warm, add the butterscotch chips to the milk and egg mixture. Let stand for 2-3 minutes and then stir until all of the melted chips are incorporated.

Pour this butterscotch custard evenly over the torn bread pieces in the loaf pan. Top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butterscotch chips (you can stir some of these in, if desired) and a sprinkling of brown sugar.

Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until custard appears set and top is nicely browned. If the top appears to be browning too quickly during baking, you can cover it with foil to prevent burning and allow the custard to continue cooking. Serve it hot or cold - a generous drizzle of cream won't go amiss, either!

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  1. Bread pudding is always a treat. This one looks delicious.

  2. I love bread pudding and this looks amazing

  3. YUM, that looks delicious!! I would love for you to share this (and any other creations) at Pin It & Win It Wednesday (open now!) at!

  4. This looks really good, what a great way to use leftover bagels. I would love you to share this and any other posts at Showcase Your Talent Thursday I hope to see you there!

  5. Oooo butterscotch!! That is one of my fav's!! Thanks for sharing at oopsey daisy!