Most people are familiar with bread puddings that are sweet and typically served for dessert. They probably came about for the purpose of using leftover bread. In fact, many recipes actually call for day-old bread. Sometimes the crusts are removed, sometimes not. Either way, bread is layered in a baking dish, smothered in an egg and cream mixture until it is absorbed, and baked. The resulting “pudding” is soufflé-like light and fluffy.
I’ve only made one bread pudding on the blog, and the recipe came from a bed and breakfast my husband and I stayed at in Dingle, Ireland. Their bread and butter pudding was offered on the breakfast buffet every morning. I tried it once, because the owner himself did the breakfast cooking every morning, and it was fabulous. But it was too sweet for me, especially at breakfast. But they were nice enough to share the recipe.
However, if you’re talking savory bread puddings, you’re talking my culinary language! Bacon, sautéed mushrooms, and cheese, in between puffy layers of baked bread. Fabulous!
If you don’t love mushrooms, you can change this recipe in so many ways, like use sausage and apples, or use corn bread instead of yeasted bread and include dried cranberries and pecans. So many options!
The bread pudding could also be made in ramekins, for prettier individual servings.
The recipe I created is for an 8 x 8″ baking dish. The bread pudding can be reheated,if there are leftovers, but should be done so gently, so as not to overcook.
Savory Mushroom Bread Pudding
3 ounces unsalted butter
1 pound fresh, sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon thyme
4-5 slices good bacon, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cups heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Fresh bread slices, about 12 sandwich-style, I used whole-wheat bread
8 ounces grated white cheese, like monterey jack
Melt the butter in a large skillet or wok over high heat. When the butter has melted, add the sliced mushrooms. I used a combination of button and portobella mushrooms. If you want an earthier tasting bread pudding, check out my savory baked brie for instructions on adding dried mushrooms to the fresh, which creates a deeper flavor.
After about 4-5 minutes, turn down the heat and let the mushrooms cook further. Add the thyme and black pepper.
When they have softened completely, place the mushrooms in a large colander over a bowl to collect the mushroom liquor. Always save this! It can be used in reductions, sauces, soups – just about everything!
Clean out your skillet and place it over high heat. Add the bacon and let it cook just until lightly browned. Add the chopped onion and turn down the heat to medium. Sauté until the onions have softened.
Add the mushroom mixture, stir well, and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the eggs and cream in a medium bowl. Add salt and white pepper.
Whisk until smooth; set aside.
At this point, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and generously grease an 8 x 8″ baking dish.
You are going to be making layers with the bread, cheese, and mushroom mixture. In between creating the layers, add 1/2 cup or so of the egg and cream mixture over the bread layers, instead of pouring the whole amount on the top when you’re done with the layering.
Begin by removing the crusts from the bread.
It helps make the layers “stick” together.
Continue making your layers, filling up any spaces between the bread slices if necessary, and when you’ve created the final bread layer, pour all of the remaining egg and cream mixture over the top. The final layer should be the mushrooms.
Wrap the baking dish loosely with foil and bake for one hour. Remove the foil and shake the baking dish to see if there’s any movement. If there is, most likely the middle hasn’t finished cooking. Turn down the heat to 300 degrees, and bake for about 15 minutes more. You can also use a cake tester to make sure the pudding is fully cooked. Just be careful not to overcook.
When the bread pudding is cooked, remove the baking dish from the oven, and set the oven on broil. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the mushrooms and broil until browned.
It can also be made the day before, but re-heat gently. You don’t want it become rubbery.
I served the bread pudding to my husband with pork tenderloin, but I think it would go with just about any meat.