blueberry bread and butter pudding

For some of us, classic French toast — not particularly French or toasted, to be honest, unless we’re speaking of pain perdu — is sufficient on a weekend morning to make it feel exceptional. For others, it’s casserole-style or bust because baking it in one big pan is vastly more enjoyable than dipping and frying on repeat while people who are not cooking come by and steal slices before you even get to sit down. But I’m going to make the argument that once you have Brit-style bread pudding casserole, uplifted by the tiniest step that is buttering the bread before fanning in out in a pan, there’s no other way.

getting startedsliced, crusts thinnedtriangle-dsprinkle with lemon sugar

Typically, the bread is then scattered with raisins and the custard has a little nutmeg or other warm spices in it, but Casa SK has a bit of a blueberry situation right now, and her name is Anna. It doesn’t matter how many we put in front of her or how slowly we encourage her to eat them, within a minute of them landing on her high chair tray, they’ve been hoovered into her tiny maw and she’s banging angrily on it and screeching for more. [Side search: Emily Post board books…] Because we’re a little scared of what happens if we run out, we’ve ended up with a oversupply of blueberries in the fridge, but even if you don’t have the same problem, you should go ahead and create it because if you haven’t yet tucked blueberries sprinkled with lemon sugar between slices of buttered bread and poured a vanilla custard over the whole mess and baked it until the blueberries leak, the center is luxe and the top is crisp and bronzed, you’re in for a very lucky weekend.

blueberry bread and butter pudding
blueberry bread and butter pudding
blueberry bread and butter pudding

One year ago: Tomato and Fried Provolone Sandwich
Two years ago: Three-Ingredient Summertime Salsa
Three years ago: Charred Corn Crepes
Four years ago: Zucchini Tomato and Rice Gratin
Five years ago: Corn Buttermilk and Chive Popovers
Six years ago: Raspberry Brown Sugar Gratin, Summer Succotash with Bacon and Croutons and Nectarine Brown Butter Buckle
Seven years ago: Asparagus with Chorizo and Croutons and Sour Cherry Slab Pie
Eight years ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti and Garlic Mustard Glazed Skewers
Nine years ago: Zucchini Bread

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Leek Ham and Cheese Egg Bake and Spaghetti Pie with Pecorino and Black Pepper
1.5 Years Ago: Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Biscuits
2.5 Years Ago: Cheese Blintz and Garlicky Party Bread
3.5 Years Ago: Pasta and White Beans with Garlic-Rosemary Oil
4.5 Years Ago: Potato Chip Cookies

Blueberry Bread and Butter Pudding

There’s a temptation when it comes to bread pudding and French toast casseroles to make them complex — vanilla bean, brandy-soaked raisins, salted caramel and mascarpone are never unwelcome after all — but I resisted because it’s also nice to know that you could use regular old white sandwich bread plus the butter, sugar, milk, eggs and lemon you probably already have in your fridge and whatever berries look good right now to make something exceptional. Non-dairy milks would work well here, as would more rich breads, but I don’t find the latter necessary to make something luxurious.

Finally, in case it looks confusing, I trimmed the crusts down on my bread because I was using a very thick-edged sourdough pullman but otherwise wouldn’t have bothered.

  • 1 pound (455 grams) loaf white sandwich or pullman bread or 14 to 16 slices, stale is fine
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, softened or melted, plus a smidge to butter the pan
  • 1 cup (170 grams) fresh blueberries
  • 6 tablespoons (75 grams) granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups (710 ml) whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • Powdered sugar, golden or maple syrup to finish (optional)
Dab bread slices with 3 tablespoons melted butter. If your bread is already stale, no need to pre-toast/dry it out. If it’s fresh, heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread slices on two trays and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until firm to the touch but not yet browned. If desired, you can cut the slices on the diagonal now too. (I find this easier once the bread is firm.)

Lightly butter a 9×13-inch or other 3-quart casserole dish. Fan bread slices out in pan. Scatter blueberries over and be sure to tuck some between slices so that they can burrow and collapse. Place sugar and lemon zest in the bottom of a small dish and use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar, so it breaks up a bit and also releases the most flavor. Sprinkle half of lemon sugar over bread and blueberries. Whisk eggs in a large bowl and slowly whisk in milk. Stir in vanilla and salt. Pour custard slowly and evenly over bread, berries and sugar. Sprinkle with remaining lemon sugar.

Let mixture soak for 15 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the fridge. When you’re ready to bake it, heat oven (or increase temperature) to 375 degrees. Bake pudding until a knife inserted into the center of the casserole and turned slightly causes no liquid custard to spill into the crack, approximately 30 to 40 minutes. This can vary by the density of your bread; it can sometimes take up to 45 minutes.

Let cool slightly before cutting into squares. Dust with powdered sugar or serve with a syrup on the side, if desired.


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