These make-ahead marvels will be the hit at any breakfast or brunch gathering. They’d even make a pretty dandy dessert at a lunch or dinner party. I prefer individual servings in small ramekins because they are prettier and easier to serve. You can make this dish with your favourite white bread, but it’s particularly nice with a delicious brioche like those available at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, thanks to the delightful bakers at Amandine whose contribution to the Holiday edition Farmers’ Feast basket inspired this post, as did the farm-fresh eggs from Bekings. You can use liquid honey but I prefer the creamed honey from Halsall’s. Choose your favourite fruit to add to the pudding; very ripe persimmon from Warner’s Farm, passed through a sieve to make a smooth puree, was heavenly, however any soft fruit (blueberries, cherries, peaches, plums, etc.) would also be terrific. While it may seem superfluous to add a sprinkle of maple sugar to the tops of the puddings, it helps them develop a nice crispy, brown crust. Plus, the maple sugar from Maple Country Sugar Bush at the Market is just so tasty. Lastly, serve it with a splash or two of whatever syrup you prefer – my current favourite is the swoon-inducing apple syrup from Halls’ Apple Market. Note that you can assemble this bread pudding in a single larger oven-safe dish instead of individual ones, but it will require a longer cooking time.
- Butter, for ramekins
- 4 large whole eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) 10% cream
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) creamed or regular honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) kosher salt
- Loaf of brioche
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) pureed or finely chopped soft fruit (fresh or frozen)
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) maple sugar (or brown sugar)
- Apple or maple syrup, to serve
- If baking immediately, preheat the oven to 350F. Otherwise prepare the bread puddings and refrigerate then preheat oven when ready to bake.
- Butter the insides of 10 half-cup (125 mL) ramekins.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, honey, vanilla and salt. If using creamed honey, you’ll need to work the mixture for a few minutes to get the honey to dissolve. When smooth, set aside.
- Slice the brioche loaf into 1/2-inch (1.25 cm) thick pieces and use a round cutter the same size as your ramekins (or a sharp knife) to cut the slices into 16 rounds.
- Lay one slice in the bottom of each ramekin and spread 2 teaspoons of the soft fruit on top of the brioche slices.
- Place the remaining bread slices on top. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, poking gently around the edges so it soaks all the way through.
- Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or up to 12 hours in the fridge, to thoroughly saturate both layers of the bread.
- Sprinkle the tops evenly with maple sugar then bake in the preheated oven for 18 – 20 minutes or until the tops of the puddings puff up and the custard is set.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving, passing syrup at the table.
Makes 10 servings