A Recipe for Maple Bourbon Bread Pudding from Rebecca Miller Ffrench of The Upstate Table
Shorter days, less light, we stand on the precipice of winter; the sudden nip in the air and promise of snow are exhilarating, but they also make me crave all things warm and cozy — thick, wool socks, a roaring fire, a full-bodied glass of red, and dessert. Not that I don’t eat sweets year round, but cold winter nights inspire especially comforting foods like warm cobblers and rich cakes. My favorite, however, is creamy, custardy bread pudding. There are several reasons to love this particular bread pudding recipe, which I have tailored for winter: it may appeal to your thrifty and/or trying-to-reduce-food-waste sensibilities because it’s a good way to use up stale bread; it’s a great dinner party dessert because you can make it in advance; and if you exclude the vanilla, you can use almost exclusively local ingredients.
I adore a somewhat chewy sourdough, and two of my favorites are Bread Alone’s levain and Jon’s Bread, which is downright addictive. Jon uses 100% local New York state whole grains that he mills fresh — this makes his flour more nutritious than pre-ground types — and then he slowly ferments the dough. These deliberate methods are clearly evident in the taste of their final product, which you can find at the Kingston’s Farmer’s Market, held in the Old Dutch Church every other Saturday in winter. I also use Ronnybrook milk, heavy cream, and butter. I like Oliverea Schoolhouse Maple Syrup because I can get it right up the road, but it’s not as widely distributed as say Catskill Mountain Sugarhouse, which also has a rich maple flavor. (We have neighbors who tap their trees, so we’re a little spoiled regarding maple syrup.) Ravenwood sells farm fresh eggs from free-range chickens available in their egg box and I get apples from Migliorelli Farm Stand in Mt. Tremper. Let’s not forget the bourbon! White Pike Whiskey makes a small batch bourbon that’s only aged 24 months, but has a nice mellow finish. While the amber liquor gives an added depth to the pudding, there’s comfort in a glass of bourbon too, so go for it, warm the soul and the belly.
Rebecca Miller Ffrench is the founder of The Upstate Table, which hosts gatherings and pop-up events in the Catskills supporting local farmers and purveyors. She hopes to inspire and cultivate home cooked meals using local goods through her recipes and classes. Rebecca is also a cookbook author, recipe developer, caterer, and events planner. She has published four cookbooks, including her most recent, Whole Protein Vegetarian (Countryman Press, 2016). She spends her time between Phoenicia and New York City with her husband and two daughters.
- For the Bread Pudding
One 16-ounce sourdough loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 – 8 loosely packed cups)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for buttering the dish
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
2 cups (1/2-inch dice) apples
6 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- For the Salted Bourbon Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon sea salt or Maldon salt flakes