The Biggest Mistake To Avoid When Baking A Classic Bread Pudding

Bread pudding may not sound like the most glamorous of desserts, and indeed, it was never intended to be the least bit fancy. Instead, it was — and is — a way to get some extra use out of bread that's starting to go stale. Many recipes speak of "day-old" bread, but this is a bit silly now that most of us neither shop nor bake every day and both preservatives and refrigeration have made food storage far easier than in bygone centuries. Still, whether it takes days or weeks, bread will eventually enter a state where it's too stale to make a good sandwich but has yet to start sprouting the blue mold that will earn it a one-way ticket to the compost heap. At that point (the stale-but-not-moldy stage), it's perfect for pudding.

Mashed developer Tommy Leung has come up with a recipe for a pretty standard, or one could term it classic, bread pudding made from white bread and flavored with cinnamon and raisins. While the dessert is fairly easy to make, Leung does issue a warning regarding over-baking it. "If you let it go too long, it can easily burn the top or get dry," he says, adding that "it's important to try to bring it out while it's still not completely set in the center." If you do so, he says the resulting pudding should be "super juicy and moist."

It would also be a mistake not to experiment with different bread types

Okay, we admit that's kind of an over-dramatic way to put things since if you want to make this recipe over and over and use nothing but plain white bread that's precisely one day old, that is your personal choice and we respect that. If, however, you want to experiment by using other types of bread or even leftover baked goods, you may treat this recipe as no more than a template and change it up to fit your fancy. Leung himself says, "I would be happy to use any kind of bread for this recipe" and suggests that "you could even make it from whole grain wheat breads or sourdoughs" if you want something hearty and earthy in the former case or kind of sourish in the second. While he cautions that such dense breads may make for drier puddings, you could instead opt for leftover croissants to lighten things up.

Leftover donuts, muffins, and even cake can also be used in this pudding, although in that case, you might want to cut way down on the sugar (we'd suggest reducing it by ½ or even ¼) unless you're a fan of super-sweet desserts. One more recipe tweak that is perfectly permissible, albeit not bread-related: If you're a raisin-hater, feel free to omit this ingredient or swap it out for something more to your taste such as chocolate chips, nuts, or dried cherries.