Rhubarb-Vanilla Bread Pudding


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

In the garden and in the kitchen, rhubarb is easily forgotten, yet it is so delicious. We’ve heard more stories of neglect and abuse of rhubarb than of any other garden plant. Our own rhubarb was trampled, chewed, and rolled on by the pups, and otherwise abused to no end. We had given up hope and forgotten about it, and then one day we noticed its beautiful resurgence.

It transforms magically from a tough, unappetizing stalk to a tender, sweet-tart treat. For this bread pudding, we like using day-old hearty country bread. It absorbs the milk and eggs nicely while still holding enough texture. Be careful not to poach the rhubarb too much or it will tend to fall apart—better to slightly underpoach than over.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (240ml) milk
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • ½ cup (110g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) seedless red preserves (raspberry, strawberry, etc.)
  • 1 pound (455g) rhubarb, cut into ½-inch (12-mm) pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ pound (225g) day-old rustic white bread with crusts removed, sliced



  1. Butter a 2-quart (2-L) baking dish.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the 2 tablespoons butter, the cream, and the milk. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream and add the pods to the pan. Add the brown sugar. Heat, stirring, to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the preserves with 1 cup (240ml) water over medium–high heat and bring to a simmer. Add the rhubarb. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the rhubarb is just starting to become tender. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract, and cloves.
  5. Remove the vanilla pods from the milk mixture and slowly whisk the milk mixture into the egg mixture.
  6. Layer half of the bread slices in the prepared baking dish. Scoop the rhubarb out of its poaching liquid and layer two-thirds of the rhubarb over the bread. Reserve the poaching liquid.
  7. Layer the remaining bread over the rhubarb. Pour the milk-egg mixture over the bread. Press down gently on the bread to help the top layer absorb the liquids.
  8. Set the baking dish aside for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquids fully. Layer the remaining rhubarb over top.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  10. Place the baking dish inside a larger roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with enough water to reach halfway up the side of the bread pudding dish. Bake for 1 hour, or until the pudding is golden brown and set.
  11. While the bread pudding is baking, simmer the reserved poaching liquid over high heat until reduced, about 10 minutes. Serve the reduced liquid alongside or drizzled over the bread pudding.