Vibrant pomegranate and winter citrus – tangerines and cara caras and Meyer lemons – are just beginning to fill the markets, their cheerful dimpled flesh bumping elbows with rosy apples, and speckled pears, and every color and shape of squash.
I’m such a fan of these overlapping seasons. Even as the days become ever shorter and decidedly chillier, our morning breath frosty, there’s still such a bounty of fruit and vegetable goodness to be had.
This raspberry brioche bread pudding forgoes the traditional rum and raisin treatment, and instead takes full advantage of the burgeoning citrus season. Combined with (frozen) raspberries leftover from Summer adventures, this berry-studded, orange-scented version channels warmer days.
The flavors here are fresh and light, and provide a nice balance to the otherwise inherently cozy and comforting – and often heavy – nature of bread pudding. We are talking sweet and buttery brioche baked in tangy custard, after all!
I’d argue that all bread pudding should begin with brioche – the rich, pillowy texture is just perfect for soaking up the custard (which is why it’s also a clear favorite for French toast…), and this recipe is no exception.
I call this raspberry bread pudding ‘rustic’ appealing to the very best sense of the word; it’s full of elegant, but uncomplicated ingredients that are elevated to wonderful, delicious levels in combination with each other. It’s simple, and homey, and appropriately indulgent.
Fluffy, tender brioche, nestled into a fragrant bath of vanilla and orange-scented egg custard, swirled with decadent crème fraîche, the piquant cousin of sour cream. A handful of berries and a sprinkling of grainy sugar to round things out.
The custard puffs up gently as it cooks, the berries soften but hold their shape, and the resultant bread pudding emerges warm from the oven begging for a dusting of confectioners sugar and perhaps a scoop of ice cream.
And I, for one, am always happy to oblige…
- 1 loaf brioche bread¹, cubed
- 3 Tbsp organic cane sugar, divided
- zest of one navel orange
- 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup raspberries²
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly grease a baking dish with softened butter. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, use your fingers to combine 2 Tbsp sugar with the orange zest until fragrant and completely incorporated. Stir in the salt followed by the eggs, whisking until smooth. Whisk in the crème fraîche, milk, and vanilla.
- Evenly arrange the brioche cubes in the prepared baking dish. Spoon the egg mixture over the bread, being sure to completely moisten the top layer.
- Top with the raspberries, and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tbsp sugar.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until puffed and golden. Cover loosely with aluminum foil as needed, if the bread begins to brown too quickly.
- Remove from the oven, and let cool for fifteen minutes, to set a bit before serving. Serve warm with a dusting of confectioners sugar or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
¹ French Brioche bread can be found in the bakery section of most well-stocked grocery stores (I found mine at Whole Foods), and is often easier to find during the holidays. Challah also works well. Day or two old is best to soak up the custard without getting overly mushy.
² Fresh or frozen raspberries will work. If using frozen berries, let them defrost in a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl for at least 30 minutes to release some of their moisture before baking. Blueberries or cranberries would be lovely as well.
You can easily divide the recipe into individual ramekins for personal servings. The bread pudding can also be prepared the night before, then baked the day of. Simply cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to bake. Add 5-10 minutes to the baking time as needed.