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The Canadian Food Experience Project: Blueberry Bread Pudding with Custard Sauce

Bread pudding 1 - the canadian food experience project: blueberry bread pudding with custard sauce

We’re already 7 months in to the Canadian Food Experience Project; December’s challenge is A Canadian Christmas Tradition – an easy one, since November and December are all about Christmas festivities, and there are so many things to make. (So much Christmas, so little time…)
Jpl 1 - the canadian food experience project: blueberry bread pudding with custard sauce

Over the past 11 years, my Christmas has been kicked off at Christmas in November at the Jasper Park Lodge – an it’s easily the highlight event of my year. The food is amazing, of course – and there’s lots of it – one of my favourite dishes from year to year is their bread pudding. With origins in the UK, it’s traditionally a frugal dish – a delicious means of using up stale bread, which is part of the reason I love it. I’m all about not wasting food, and during the holiday season there’s no shortage of baked goods around. I love recipes that make use of what you have – in this case, you don’t need to go out and buy a loaf of bread, but can use the ends of loaves you’ve already enjoyed, not to mention cinnamon buns, croissants, and other bready things – one of my favourite things to do with fruited yeast breads like panettone and stollen is make a creamy, rich bread pudding to drizzle with custard sauce.

Jpl 2 - the canadian food experience project: blueberry bread pudding with custard sauce
The custard sauce in our house is made with Bird’s Custard Powder – it’s usually available alongside the Jell-O in most grocery stores. I make it thin, sometimes adding a bit of orange zest, so that it can be drizzled over bread pudding (like they served it at the JPL) and on Christmas day, steamed plum pudding, if we manage to track some down. (It’s on my to-do list this year to make.)

Bread pudding 2 - the canadian food experience project: blueberry bread pudding with custard sauce

I love berries in a bread pudding too – it makes great use of the stash of Saskatoon and blueberries in my freezer, or for something more festive, you could use cranberries. And if you have leftover eggnog – or just love it a lot – use some in place of about half the milk. (You may want to cut the sugar back to about 1/2 cup if you do.) It also makes a great make-ahead dish for Christmas morning; mix everything and pour it into the baking dish, then cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, slide it into the oven and bake.

To make individual bread puddings like they sometimes do at the JPL, divide the mixture into buttered or paper-lined ramekins or muffin tins and bake for about half the time. I often use a Canadian Living recipe as a starting point – you can’t get more Canadian, especially after spending 10 days with iconic past food editor Elizabeth Baird…

Blueberry Bread Pudding

Adapted from Canadian Living

  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups 18% cream
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cupmilk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 cups cubed soft white sandwich bread or croissants
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, Saskatoon berries or cranberries

In large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk and vanilla. Add bread and blueberries; stir gently but thoroughly to moisten evenly. Scrape into a buttered 9×13-inch glass baking dish and set aside for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake until puffed, golden brown and the tip of knife inserted in centre comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool on rack for 1/2 hour and serve warm, with custard sauce if you like. Serves 8.

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