It's said that "Necessity is the Mother of Invention," and that's how my version of bread pudding was created. I had never made one prior to having guests for dinner that requested a bread pudding for dessert. "No problem!", I thought, "How hard can it be to make?" I chose a classic Betty Crocker recipe, made it, served it, and couldn't eat more than a spoonful! My guests had no problem with it but for me, it was boring, mediocre and didn't hold my interest. Because my family refuses to eat raisins and I was so sorely disappointed in the original recipe, I spent a week with my cookbooks, pouring over them and taking notes from various recipes. I ultimately decided to treat each aspect of the bread pudding as a single unit: if I'd love to eat the custard, alone, than it was a winner. Same went for the bread: if it was such a great bread that I could eat it plain, then it had to be included. And since raisins were out, I decided to use mixed berries as a contrast against the custardy bread filling. And what came out of the oven was a winner!
Because the pudding is so creamy and slightly sweet, the sharp tang of the berries just zipped right through the sweetness and burst onto your tongue, making you almost draw in your breath from the delicious contrast. Then, add the orange-flavoured whipped cream, which added another layer of distinct flavour to it, and it was a HIT...in our home! Is this the most economical bread pudding, using scraps of this and that? No. Is this the simplest of bread pudding recipes to create, dumping stale bread and milk together, toss in an egg or two, a handful of raisins and into the oven? No, again. But, this IS a bread pudding that will make you proud to serve it at your table. It's a bread pudding that treated each element with the respect that it deserved, creating a quality dessert. So, if you want a slightly more upscale version of a bread pudding that is sure to wow your family, please try my version, that will become our standard from now on. And yes!, the temperature is correct: it's 335 degrees; I split the difference between 325 for custard and 350 for cake. This way, the bread browns nicely but the custard doesn't overbake. Enjoy!