Brunch Recipe: French Toast Bread Pudding

Many people don’t know that French Toast and Bread Pudding are essentially the same thing – stale bread saturated with custard that is cooked until it has a crunchy exterior and a gooey interior – the stuff dreams are made of.  Individual nuances include the thickness of the bread and the cooking method, French Toast is grilled where Bread Pudding is baked.  Also different is the adornment, French toast usually gets butter and maple syrup and bread pudding a hard sauce made with butter, whiskey or rum and cane sugar.

This recipe combines the best of both worlds by taking a bread pudding made with French bread and maple glazed doughnuts that is finished with maple sugar brulee and topped with a hard sauce of maple syrup, bourbon and butter.  Not enough flash for you?  How about a little blackberry compote on the side?  You’re welcome.

This recipe is tailor made for Christmas brunch.  You can read the recipes next or watch the video (minus the compote and maple brulee) at the bottom.

Recipe: Bread Pudding


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 5 large beaten eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups French bread, cubed and stale
  • 1 cup maple glazed doughnuts, cubed and stale
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (American).
  2. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan with butter.
  3. Whisk together the white sugar, eggs and milk in a bowl then mix in the bourbon vanilla. Pour over cubed bread and set aside for about 10 minutes.
  4. In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter and pecans. Pour bread mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven.

Quick Notes

To stale bread you can put it in a large bowl lightly covered with a dish towel and set out overnight or place in a 150 degree oven for 10 – 20 minutes.


You can substitute regular vanilla for the bourbon vanilla and add a teaspoon of Maker’s Mark.

Recipe: Maple Sugar Brulee (Optional)


  • 1/2 cup Maple sugar


  1. Evenly sprinkle the maple sugar across the top of the cooked bread pudding.
  2. Either caramelize the maple sugar with a chef’s torch or place under a preheated broiler until the sugar has melted.

Quick Notes

You can skip the brulee altogether if you like. It’s an extra textural element but is not crucial to the overall dish.

Recipe: Hard Sauce


  • 1 cup Grade A maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Maker’s Mark whiskey


  1. Mix together the syrup, butter, egg, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir together until well blended.
  3. Add the bourbon, stirring well.
  4. Pour over the top of the bread pudding.

Quick Notes

Margarine is not acceptable.

Recipe: Blackberry Compote (optional)


  • ½ cup Water
  • ¼ cup Agave nectar
  • 1½ TBL Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 3 cups Fresh or frozen blackberries


  1. Bring water, agave, juice and cinnamon to a boil in a small saucepan over moderate heat.
  2. Simmer until reduced to about 1/4 cup. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
  3. Purée 2 cups blackberries with all of syrup in a blender. Force purée through a fine sieve into a bowl to remove seeds.
  4. Stir remaining cup of berries into sauce.

Quick Notes

Fruit is a common topping for French Toast and many Bread Puddings often contain raisins or fruit cocktail. This compote ties the two together but is best served on the side so the diner can get as much or as little as they prefer.

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
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2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
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2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
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