One of the perks of being a freelance food photographer is being able to eat all the food. I get to prepare all kinds of dishes and actually enjoy the fruits of my labor afterward. It's awesome. One of my last assignments was to make challah bread. Immediately, I started to think of what to do with the bread. The possibilities are endless but I ultimately decided to make a spring bread pudding. This earl grey bread pudding with blueberries and rhubarb honey creme anglaise is what I call the best kind of reward!
Earl Grey Bread Pudding with Blueberries
Earl grey bread pudding
- 1 lb challah cut into large cubes
- 3 cups milk (750 ml)
- 1 cup granulated sugar (200 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3 tablespoons loose Earl grey tea leaves (15 grams)
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (12 ounces)
Rhubarb honey creme anglaise
- 6 ounces chopped rhubarb
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water (62.5 ml)
- 1 ¼ cup heavy cream (312 ml)
- 3 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Spread cut challah on a baking sheet and toast for 25-30 minutes or until lightly toasted and dry. Let cool completely.
- Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
- Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a bare simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, salt, and vanilla, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Add loose tea leaves and let sit for 25 minutes.
- Strain infused milk, discarding tea leaves. Whisk eggs and egg yolks into tea mixture until well combined.
- Lay toasted challah in prepared baking dish in an even layer. Pour tea egg mixture on top, tossing the bread to coat. Add blueberries, gently tossing all together. Let sit for 20 minutes.
- Bake bread pudding for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and set. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make rhubarb creme anglaise. Heat rhubarb with sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until rhubarb is softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and puree rhubarb until smooth.
- Heat heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a bare simmer. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until well combined. Slowly add warm heavy cream to yolks, whisking constantly. Add a pinch of nutmeg and pureed rhubarb and return to the stove. Continue to simmer for 3-5 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in honey. Serve bread pudding with creme anglaise on the side.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Bread pudding is, in my opinion, the definition of comfort dessert food. It's carbs and custard in one bite plus a creamy sauce. It really doesn't get any better than that. To elevate this dessert, I decided to incorporate earl grey infused milk, fresh berries, and a spring-inspired rhubarb honey creme anglaise sauce. The flavors are truly spectacular.
Bread pudding usually calls for stale bread but if you're using a fresh loaf, we can dry it out first. You can use any type of hearty loaf including brioche or french bread; I chose challah for this recipe.
Cut the bread into large cubes and spread them on a baking sheet. To dry out the bread, bake it in the oven at 300 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until lightly toasted. You can also cut the bread and leave it out to air-dry overnight. I prefer the oven method just to cut down on the time.
Meanwhile, prepare the custard filling. To incorporate the earl grey flavor, we need to first heat the milk. When it comes to a bare simmer, remove the milk from heat and add the sugar, salt, and vanilla.
Stir in the earl grey tea leaves and let the milk sit for 25 minutes. I highly recommend using loose tea leaves because it's better quality than tea bags.
Strain the milk, discarding the tea. Next, whisk in the eggs and egg yolks until well combined. Pour the custard over the toasted bread, gently tossing to coat.
Add the fresh or frozen blueberries, stirring everything together. Let the mixture sit for about 20 minutes, allowing the bread to really soak up the custard. You can gently press down on the bread if the tops appear dry.
Bake the earl grey bread pudding with blueberries for about 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and set. The bread pudding should barely jiggle and the bread should be slightly puffed up.
Let the bread pudding cool for about 20 minutes.
While the dessert is baking and cooling, make the rhubarb honey creme anglaise. Creme anglaise is basically a custard sauce - yes, more custard! We're going to add honey to sweeten the sauce and rhubarb for a bit of tartness.
First, cook the rhubarb with sugar and water until the rhubarb is softened. Puree the rhubarb and set it aside.
Then, heat heavy cream until it comes to a bare simmer. Slowly add the heavy cream to the egg yolks and sugar, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling. Add a pinch of nutmeg and the rhubarb puree and bring the sauce back to a simmer. Continue to cook the sauce until thickened, whisking constantly. Remove the creme anglaise from heat and stir in the honey.
Serve the earl grey bread pudding with blueberries warm or at room temperature with the rhubarb honey creme anglaise on the side.
This dessert struck home for me. The earl grey pudding was present but not overwhelming and the hint of rhubarb in the sauce sealed the deal. It was definitely hard to stop eating!
For more blueberry dessert inspiration check out these blueberry elderflower kefir donuts!