Bread pudding has been synonymous with New Orleans for at least two centuries, and I still consider the classic one with whiskey sauce served at the Bon Ton Café to be the finest in the city. At one point, chopped dried fruits were also added to the pudding, suggesting that the dessert’s origins were not French Creole but, somehow, English. The pudding can certainly be made with day-old commercial white bread, but it does make all the difference in texture if you use a homemade, crusty country bread.
To make the pudding, heat the milk in a medium saucepan over moderate heat until bubbles just begin to form around the edges of the pan. Combine the scalded milk, bread, and cream in a large mixing bowl and stir till well blended. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugar together till well blended, then stir into the bread mixture. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix till well blended. Stir in the melted butter, raisins, and pecans. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish, set the dish in a larger baking pan filled with warm water about 1 inch deep, and
To make the sauce, place the egg yolks in a medium-size heavy saucepan and beat slightly. Add the sugar, cream, and vanilla, mix till well blended, and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, till the mixture comes to a low boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the bourbon. Let the sauce cool slightly before spooning it over the pudding, served in deep bowls.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.