The recipe below is one I have continuously improved to create the true custard pudding variety served at the Hotel DuPont® Grill cafeteria. That bread pudding has all the bread in cubes submerged in the custard, with an excess of custard and no bread pieces ever harden due to surface exposure during baking. There is also no surface coating of butter, sugar or cinnamon. It is always served chilled. After a few attempts to create perfection, including variations in making the custard that contains the bread cubes, I believe I have finally figured out how the Hotel DuPont® did it. The short answer is that they make the normal bread pudding recipe as shown below, reserving some of the egg custard to be baked without bread cubes. By so doing they can combine both after baking to create the custard topped lower portion of their bread pudding. Then, the cream sauce goes on top of that and finally the final whipped topping is added.
Note that the picture shown on the right is certainly not an accurate representation of the product from this recipe. The picture shows the more conventional type of bread pudding, which while good isn't even close to the Hotel DuPont® Grill version, which is "knock your socks off" perfection.
The cream sauce I have developed in this recipe is perfect. The final whipped topping is very good but I am still experimenting. Why not try your own ideas? I’m thinking about using a variation of my clotted cream recipe (shown at the end of this recipe) with some of the cream sauce and a bit of Cointreau® liquor.
1/2 lb. of French Bread (1/2 of 25 inch long baguette, which is about half the amount used in typical bread pudding recipes … you can vary the amount to suit your taste), cut into 3/4 inch or smaller cubes
1 cup of dark raisins
9 large eggs
4 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of half and half
2 1/2 cups of sugar
2 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon
1 tsp. of ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Beat the eggs, cream, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. That creates the basic custard for the pudding. Separate the custard into two portions, reserving one third of it for separate baking. Note that the instructions in the next two steps assume that both portions of the custard will be baked at the same time.
Put the bread cubes and raisins into a 9" by 13" glass baking dish. Pour half of the larger portion of custard over the bread and raisins and gently press down, then let it sit 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Pour the remaining part of that portion of custard over the bread and gently press down, let it sit another 5 minutes, then press down again. The idea is to have the bread cubes thoroughly soaked with the custard.
Pour the smaller portion of the egg custard into a 5" by 9" glass baking dish and cover it tightly with aluminum foil. Fill a second 9" x 13" glass baking dish half full with hot water and place the egg custard dish in it and then put the combination into the oven and bake for 90 minutes. Check the egg custard for doneness by inserting a knife into the center. If it comes out clean the custard is done and it should be removed from the oven and allowed to cool to room temperature, covered with the aluminum foil. If it is not done let it bake for an additional 15 minutes and test it again.
Cover the bread pudding in the 9" x 13" baking dish with aluminum foil tightly. This will inhibit moisture from escaping during baking and thus keep the top surface of the custard moist throughout the baking cycle. Then bake it for 90 minutes in a hot water bath, which requires a container larger than the 9"x13" inch glass baking dish. I use the bottom of a broiling pan to hold the water. Remove the aluminum foil and check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center. If it comes out clean the pudding/custard is done. If not, bake an additional 15 minutes or until the custard is just set in the center. Do not overbake or the custard will lose too much moisture. Remove the bread pudding from the oven and let it cool to room temperature, covered with the aluminum foil.
When the egg custard and the bread pudding have cooled to room temperature, mix the egg custard with an electric mixer to create a smooth spreadable mixture. Spread that mixture on the top of the bread pudding evenly. Then recover the bread pudding with the aluminum foil.
Chill the bread pudding in the refrigerator. Serve it cold in individual serving bowls or on small plates, covered with the chilled Cream Sauce shown below. Just before serving, fold ½ cup of the cream sauce into freshly prepared whipped cream as an extra topping to go on top of the basic cream sauce (or try my idea mentioned earlier), ergo a three layer dessert. Details are provided below.
Cream Sauce Ingredients:
Cream Sauce Directions:
Mix the cream, milk, vanilla and cream liquor in a large heavy saucepan, . Mix the cornstarch with the water and then mix that with the other ingredients. Bring the mixture to a scald temperature (steam coming from the pan but the contents not quite to a boil) on medium heat while stirring and then remove the saucepan from the heat.
Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks and orange zest in a large mixing bowl until they are well combined, then gradually whisk the hot milk/cream mixture into the egg/sugar mixture. This can be done best by using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment.
Transfer the contents to a large double boiler (one that can easily hold 1 ½ quarts of liquid) and cook over simmering water, stirring gently but constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until thickened, about 12 minutes. The sauce does not need to boil. Remember that you are making a sauce, not a pudding, which would thicken considerably during cooking. Pour the sauce into a two quart bowl. Special Note: I have a very heavy French copper saucepan with a tin interior that is typically used to make cream sauces, so I do not use a double boiler when I make the cream sauce for the bread pudding.
Let the sauce cool completely to room temperature, then cover it and put it into the refrigerator and keep it cold until you are ready to use it. It will finish thickening as it chills.
Whipped Topping Ingredients and Directions:
Just before serving the bread pudding, whip 1 cup of heavy cream at high speed in your electric mixer. Add 1 tbsp. sugar, ½ tsp. vanilla and 1 or 2 tbsp. of Cointreau® liquor after soft peaks have formed. Continue mixing for one minute. Stop mixing and fold ½ cup of the chilled Cream Sauce into the flavored whipped cream gently to create a soft third layer to be put on top of the Cream Sauce and Bread Pudding.
As noted earlier, the whipped topping will be improved by putting all of the above whipped topping ingredients except the cream sauce together and processing them at very high speed in a small food processor (like a Magic Bullet®) with a maximum cup or container volume of no more than one pint. The expected result is a much thicker whipped topping resulting from the limited expansion space within the mixing container. The entire mixing time will be less than one minute and completion will be obvious when the mixer blades suddenly increase speed as if there is nothing in the container being mixed. Fold the whipped topping and the cream sauce together gently in a cold bowl to complete the whipped topping.
Use a spatula to cut the bread pudding into about 12 portions. Put one portion on each serving plate. Cover the bread pudding with 1/2 cup of cream sauce. Then cover the cream sauce with 1/3 cup of the whipped topping. Serve ... expect applause ... it will be forthcoming.