Frugal kitchen, Kitchen Fun, Recipes
Comments 19

Zesty, festive bread pudding

Festive cranberry apple bread pudding, drizzled with maple syrup

Go ahead. Taste this creamy, rich, festive bread pudding, popping with farm-fresh apples and soaked, dried cranberries. Catch a whiff of sweet vanilla mingling with just a hint of orange zest. So moist you don’t need to take extra time to make a sauce–unless you want to–this pastry stands up just fine on its own.

Festive cranberry apple bread pudding

Festive cranberry apple bread pudding dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with pure organic maple syrup

Yum bliss and frugal too

Can frugal taste good? Oh yeah. French chefs know this secret. For centuries, they’ve taken yesterday’s stale bread and turned it into roll-your-eyes yum. Foodie bliss.

Frugal Tip:  Turn stale bread into scrumptious eats

So you always have some when you need it, cube leftover bread and store in an air-tight container in the freezer until you’re ready to make croutons, holiday dressing or this bread pudding.

It was in a French bistro that I got my first taste of bread pudding. They laced theirs with rum sauce, topped with a generous dollop of Chantilly cream. It’s the only time in my life I’ve been able to swallow anything with rum in it. My waistline attests to how many swallows!

Not far from my office, that little bistro, with its friendly staff, colorful salads, hearty soups, and it’s surprisingly decadent delicacy made from yesterday’s bread, nourished body and soul.

They’re long gone now. Today, I make my bread pudding, and I have to say, this one–this recipe–is so good I don’t even bother making a sauce (most of the time) or whipping up cream.

Who knew something so good could come from stale bread? With so many of us trimming our grocery budgets lately, we have to watch our food waste. If we don’t, we might as well throw dollar bills in the compost bucket.  Right? Why not turn stale bread you would normally discard into an amazing dessert that makes you want to sneak into the kitchen, grab a fork and fold off just one more nibble?

Unless you’re craving that saucy touch, serve this pastry with a light dusting of powdered sugar, and prepare for melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

Dress it up if you want to

Mix 1 tablespoon plain yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup per serving

Mix 1 tablespoon plain yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup per serving

Of course, if you want to dress it up, go ahead. We sometimes drizzle a little pure maple syrup on ours, as you see in the photograph at the top of the page.

When I want to make a little more of a show, I whisk up a super quick sauce to drizzle over the plate just before serving.

So simple, yet so good: For each serving, whisk together one tablespoon yogurt to one-quarter teaspoon maple syrup. Lift the spoon high over the plate and dribble a zig-zag line of the sauce over the pudding. Dot a few tiny drops on the side and serve. Delicious!

However you dress it, serve it warm

Slice of bread pudding

Best served warm, this pastry reheats well, lightly toasted in a toaster oven, if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers. We don’t own a microwave, so I can’t say how it re-heats there. After three years, this is still a favorite holiday and special occasion treat any time of the year. I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe as much as we do.

A YayYay's Kitchen Recipe

Zesty Cranberry Apple Bread Pudding Recipe

Serve this dessert warm, with fresh-brewed coffee or tea, and dig in before the powdered sugar melts.

Zesty bread pudding, warm from the oven and lightly dusted with powdered sugar

Zesty bread pudding, warm from the oven and lightly dusted with powdered sugar

Time and such
  • Servings: 8-12, depending how generously you slice it
  • Prep time: 15 minutes, plus 2 hours soak time, turning occasionally
  • Bake time: 35-40 minutes
  • Total time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Oven temp: 375º Fahrenheit
  • 16 oz. stale bread, cubed, preferably unbleached sourdough, whole wheat or a combination
  • 1 -1/2 C cored, chopped apples, unpeeled
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 3 -1/2 C whole milk
  • 2/3 C Evaporated cane juice (unrefined sugar)
  • 6 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 scant C dried cranberries
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Zest of one small orange
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 t ground nutmeg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)
Frugal tip: Always zest and save citrus fruit before you peel it
It’s so easy to zest an orange. Here’s how to save it so you have zest when you need it, even if you don’t have fresh fruit on hand.
  1. Toss together the bread cubes and chopped apples in a big mixing bowl, preferably glass or stainless steel. Set aside.
  2. Bring the milk, cream, sugar, butter and raisins to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Carefully pour the scalding mixture over the bread cubes and stir gently to assure all are thoroughly moistened. The bread will swell as it absorbs the liquid. Set aside for two hours, stirring gently every 10 minutes or so to assure the bread absorbs the mixture.
  3. Butter a 9×12 baking dish (or 2 quart) and set aside.
  4. Near end of soaking time, preheat oven to 375º F, whisk the eggs and combine with the orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract. Fold the custard mixture into the bread mixture till well combined, then fold all into the prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake at 375º F for 35-40 minutes until golden and puffy.

Serve warm. Sprinkle powdered sugar generously over each serving or serve with a favorite  sauce. Refrigerate leftovers, if there are any, and nosh at will. This is lovely for breakfast the next day, if you like sweetness with your morning coffee.

Kid-Friendly recipe

This is one of those recipes that does not need precision, so bring the little ones into the kitchen and let them help. They can measure and mix before baking. A six-year-old will love being responsible for stirring the bread mixture every fifteen minutes or so. Give him a timer and teach him how to set it, then watch him take his responsibility as seriously as rocket science.

Sure, why not let your 3-year-old have a little fun dusting her piece of bread pudding with powdered sugar?

Sure, why not let your 3-year-old have a little fun dusting her piece of bread pudding with powdered sugar?

After the pudding bakes and the pan cools a bit, let the tykes use the sifter to dust their own pieces. Here’s how my granddaughter likes her bread pudding, with extra powdered sugar sprinkled over the top. Of course I let her sprinkle it herself! That’s one of the perks of being a grandmother, right?

If you’re worried about the sugar high, think cupcakes piled with frosting. This is nothing like that much sugar! Everybody giggles and has a fun time, and then they get to eat their confectionery designs, however snowy they may be.

Are you a bread pudding fan?

Did you have a frugal grandmother who baked up wonderful desserts from almost nothing? Or did you get your first taste of a marvelous bread pudding at a French bakery? Tell us about it! Or tell us how you use stale bread at your house. And do come back and let me know if you try this recipe, won’t you?

♥ ♥ ♥

Dear Reader: If you think you’ve seen this recipe before, you may well have.  I first published it in 2013, on the now-defunct site Squidoo. When HubPages bought Squidoo in 2014, I opted to have my pages transferred to their site. Now, in October 2015, I’ve brought it home–to YayYay’s Kitchen.


  1. Kathryn–I plan to try both your chili and bread pudding recipes, but I’m at the beach for 2 months and without a scale to measure. i did bring my measuring cups, though. Can you tell me how many cups 16 oz. of stale bread would be? Id also like to compliment you on the attractiveness and ease-of-access of your blog design. The recipes all sound delicious, but as an artist and a writer, I also always appreciate the look, organization and intimacy of a well-written and attractive blog. Thanks for commenting on my blog, because it led me to yours. Judy

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good question, Judy, and I thank you for asking. I weigh the bread because I toss random cubes of leftover bread in a freezer bowl until I have enough. With varying size and shapes of the cubes, cup measurements aren’t too accurate. I’m guessing six to eight cups of 3/4-inch cubes might work.

      The recipe that started all this called for 8 large croissants as well as rum and other goodies, but I’ve changed the recipe so much over the years, the source script wouldn’t be the least recognizable any longer.

      Incidentally, your comment totally makes my day. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for another giggle. As I find more and more fabulous recipes from around the world, I’m finding a gram-measuring food scale invaluable, but not sure I’m ready to take it on trips yet.


  2. Pingback: Real Food Fridays #113 – Living Healthy

  3. Hi Kathryn,
    Just a note to let you know that I chosen your post as one of my features for this weeks Real Food Fridays blog hop that goes live every Thursday @ 7pm EST. Thank you for sharing your information and being part of Real Food Fridays mission to make this world a little bit healthier every week.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Kathyrn,
    Wow this sound delicious and look absolutely wonderful. Love all the healthy ingredients. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & tweeted!

    Liked by 1 person

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.