Bread pudding is a classic British dessert that's been warming hearts and satisfying sweet cravings for centuries. Sink your teeth into a rich, dense treat with a crispy caramelized top, a medley of sweet and spice flavours.
Not to be confused with bread and butter pudding, this is an old-fashioned British bread pudding, a traditional English recipe. Made with simple everyday ingredients based on your preferences or what you have on hand?
Keep it cheap using leftover bread with water, spices and dried fruit. Or add some rich ingredients such as butter, milk, cream, and eggs to further enhance the taste.
It's so easy. Anyone could make it and it gives you an excuse to play with your food!
How to Make Bread Pudding
Here is a quick slideshow of steps to make a bread pudding recipe.
If you want to learn more about this delicious dish, including suitable ingredient substitutions, the equipment you'll need, and some serving suggestions, keep reading.
So the basic ingredients have changed over the years. The old-fashioned bread pudding recipe was more stripped back than some made today.
All that you need is stale bread, water, mixed spices, sugar and dried fruits.
However achieve the best bread pudding, we like to add a bit of richness using milk instead of water. As well as adding some butter and egg. However, the choice is yours. You can adjust ingredients to make bread pudding your own way.
Here is a breakdown of the ingredients we have used and suitable substitutions.
Although this old-fashioned dessert recipe is best known for using up leftover stale bread, it does not need to be old bread.
You can use fresh bread instead, a loaf of store-bought pre-sliced white or brown bread, or homemade bread, whatever you prefer.
The best bread to use is an uncut large loaf from the bakery, with the crusts cut off.
In our opinion using whole milk to soak the bread cubes in gives a nicer overall taste than just using water, as the original recipe would state.
I have also heard that some would soak bread in tea. Or, for a really indulgent bread pudding, use cream instead!
Whatever you choose, use the same measure as you would of milk.
This is an optional addition for extra richness. If you do not use butter, use 100ml more of the liquid you chose above, milk, tea, water or cream!
You can buy a bag of mixed dried fruits, or you can pick and choose which dried fruits you want to add to the recipe.
Raisins, sultanas, currants, golden raisins, dried cranberries, chopped apricots, and lemon or orange zest are all good options.
For this easy bread pudding recipe, we typically use light brown sugar. It brings a sweet, caramel-like flavour that enhances the overall taste of the pudding. However, you can certainly experiment with other types of sugar.
Demerara sugar is another interesting option seen at the top of the image below. It is the perfect sugar to sprinkle on top of the bread pudding. The larger granules give a lovely crunch.
Dark brown sugar will produce a darker bake and a more robust, molasses-like taste.
Muscovado sugar is darker and stickier than other brown sugars, and it can give your bread pudding a deeply intense, almost toffee-like taste.
If you only have white sugar (caster or granulated sugar), they will still work. It will be lighter in colour and will have a more straightforward sweetness.
Experiment with these different sugars to find the perfect bread pudding mixture for your sweet tooth!
Mixed spices sold in the UK usually contain a mixture of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, ginger, mace and sometimes ground coriander.
You can mix your own version using a mix of your favourite from the above spices.
We do add quite a lot of mixed spice to our recipe you may want to add less and taste it before adding more.
Whilst eggs might not always be used in traditional bread pudding recipes, we like to include them because they contribute significantly to the overall texture of the dish.
The eggs act as a binder in the recipe, helping to hold all the other ingredients together. This ensures that your bread pudding doesn't fall apart when you slice into it, providing structure to the dessert.
Here is the equipment needed for this recipe:
A good-sized mixing bowl is essential. Look for one that is deep enough to contain all your ingredients without spilling over.
A plastic, firm silicone or wooden spoon will be needed to mix all the ingredients together.
The size of the baking tin you use will influence the thickness of your slices once cooked.
We used a 12 x 8 inch baking tin, in this blog post, so try and use a similar size. A 9 x 9 square tin will create a similar result.
If you don't have a 12 x 8 inch baking pan or a 9 x 9 inch baking tin, don't worry. You can use a baking tin that is an inch or two bigger or smaller. Remember that this will affect the thickness of your slices - a larger baking sheet will yield thinner slices, while a smaller tin will produce thicker ones. This might require adjusting the cooking time to ensure your slices are cooked perfectly.
You could use a small ceramic or glass roasting dish or large recyclable foil containers instead.
We like to line the tin with parchment paper for easy removal and cleanup. But you can grease the tin instead.
We will go into some detail about the steps for making this bread pudding easy recipe.
Begin by cutting the bread into cubes, or tear it if easier! You can remove the crust from your bread for a smoother texture, but you must weigh it after the crust is removed.
Transfer the cubed bread to a large bowl and douse it with your choice of milk, water, tea or cream), stirring well.
Let this sit for a few minutes to allow the bread to fully absorb the liquid (if you're leaving the crust on, you'll need to leave it to soak a bit longer).
Preheat oven to 170℃ fan / 190℃ / Gas mark 5. While you let the bread soak, line your baking tin with parchment paper and weigh all the remaining ingredients.
Bread Pudding Mixture
After the soaking period, stir the bread into the milk mixture until it's all broken down and has a stodgy consistency.
For a touch of richness, melt some melted butter and mix it into your bread mixture - though this step can be skipped if you prefer. Just add extra milk instead.
Now add your choice of dried fruit, beaten eggs, sugar and mixed spice to your mixture, combining everything thoroughly.
Transfer your bread pudding mixture evenly to the lined baking tin, making sure it's spread out evenly.
Sprinkle some light brown sugar over the top before placing the tin in the middle of the preheated oven.
Bake the bread pudding for about an hour at 170℃ fan / 190℃ / Gas mark 5, until golden brown on top.
Once your baking time is up, remove the tin from the oven and use a skewer to check it's cooked through - it should come out clean.
Cook for longer if needed. If the top of the bread pudding is getting too dark, cover it with foil.
Allow your bread pudding to cool and firm up for around 15 minutes before you add another sprinkle of sugar on top.
Then lift it from the tin using the parchment paper.
Cut your bread pudding into eight large or sixteen smaller slices, depending on your portion size preference.
Serve it warm as it is, or serve with some custard, cream or ice cream.
Or try adding some of our salted caramel sauce or vanilla sauce!
Alternatively, you can enjoy it cold as a delectable cake treat.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
- 500 g Bread approx 12 slices with crust or 18 slices with crust removed
- 600 ml Whole Milk
- 100 grams Butter (optional)
- 500 g Dried Fruit add more or less to your taste.
- 150 g Light Brown Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Mixed Spice You can add more if you like it strong
- 2 large Eggs
- 3 tablespoon Demerara Sugar for sprinkling on top (can use other sugars)
- Cut 500 g Bread into cubes. Optional* You can remove the crust for a smoother finish - we dont!
- Place into a large mixing bowl, pour in the 600 ml Whole Milk.
- Stir well, then place aside for a few minutes to soak up the milk. (if using crust you may need to soak for longer)
- Whilst soaking, Preheat oven to 170℃ fan / 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5 line tin with parchment paper
- Give the bread a good stir until all broken down and stodgy.
- Melt 100 grams Butter in the microwave. Whisk 2 large Eggs into another small bowl* If not using butter use equivalent measure of milk. (This is for extra richness, it can be skipped)
- Now add the melted butter, whisked eggs, 500 g Dried Fruit, 2 Tablespoons Mixed Spice and 150 g Light Brown Sugar to the bread mixture.
- Stir to combine all the ingredients. Make sure they are well combined.
- Pour the bread pudding mixture into the lined baking tin. Make sure it is level.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of the 3 tablespoon Demerara Sugar on top. Save 1 tablespoon for adding after it is cooked!
- Bake in the middle of the oven at 170℃ fan / 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5 for 1 hour.
- Remove tin from the oven, check it is cooked through, use a skewer, it should come out clean.
- Leave to cool and firm up for approx 15 minutes, before removing it from tin, using the parchement paper to carefully lift it out of the tin.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of demerara sugar on top.
- Cut into servings, either 12 large slices or 24 smaller slices.
- Serve warm with an extra sprinkle of sugar on top add custard, cream or caramel sauce.
- It can also be served cold as a tasty cake treat.
Once the bread pudding has completely cooled, store it in the refrigerator. Transfer the pudding to an airtight container or food bag. It will typically last 4-5 days in the fridge.
When you're ready to enjoy it, you can eat it cold straight from the fridge or reheat it.
Bread pudding also freezes well in a freezer-safe bag or pot. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
You can reheat individual servings of bread pudding in the microwave. Start with 30-second intervals, checking after each until it's warmed through.
For larger amounts, reheat in the oven. Preheat your oven to 170℃ fan / 190℃ / 375℉ / Gas mark 5, cover the pudding with aluminium foil to prevent it from drying out, and heat for about 20 minutes or until warmed through.
Bread pudding - it's a classic British pudding recipe that we all know and love. But do you know where it came from? Well, let's take a fun little journey back in time.
Imagine this: It's the 11th or 12th century in Europe. Times are tough, and people can't afford to waste food. So, what do they do with their stale bread? They get creative and invent bread pudding. Which is where the name poor man's pudding came from, using stale bread and water.
Over time, the recipe for bread pudding has changed quite a bit; its heart remains the same, but richer ingredients have been added to improve it.
More British Recipes
If you enjoyed our easy bread pudding recipe. Here are a few more traditional British recipes you should try.
We know that everyone has their own twist on this recipe handed down from parents and grandparents. We would love to hear your own take on this recipe in the comments.