I loved my Irish Soda Bread with Oatmeal and Walnuts but, like most times I make anything “bready”, I am alone in eating the leftovers. Which is fine for a few days of glorious slices toasted and smeared with some Irish butter but then it started to get a bit stale. Irish soda bread is not a great “keeper”. I was thinking I would cube it up and bake off some croutons with it for salads but that just seemed so… pedestrian to me for some reason. I’m sure they would’ve been quite delicious and I would’ve been glad to have them. Much better than throwing the remainder of the loaf away. Something told me to do some browsing online and see what else I could come up with. Low and behold, upon searching “what to do with leftover soda bread” a few recipes for bread pudding popped up! My soda bread was on the savory side but most soda breads can be easily coaxed in the opposite direction. And with the notion of a whiskey caramel sauce on the horizon there was no turning back!
See? Very much nom, nom and much more exciting than croutons. 😉
I chose to make one large pudding but you could certainly make individual ramekins. I just picked up a new Le Cruset casserole dish at Marshall’s the other day so I think I just needed a good excuse to “christen” it. This was the first bread pudding I’ve even made and I’m happy to say that it’s pretty darn easy. The hardest part is waiting. Waiting for the bread to soak before baking and waiting while it’s in the oven. I want to eat it!
Believe it or not, this was also the first “true” caramel sauce I’ve ever made. And I ruined my first batch. I stuck my spatula in the pot while it was boiling which is a big NO NO and sure enough, the whole thing started to crystallize. Quite rapidly in fact. And then I was stuck with a disaster of a pan to clean and scrape out. But I didn’t’ give up and went back in to give it a second go. I did NOT mess with the bubbling sugar this time and things went as planned. I read a tip online that if you see sugar or liquid starting to stick to the side of the pan, instead of swirling the pot or whatnot simply place a lid on the pan for a few minutes and allow steam to bring everything back down the walls of the pot. Whew! So don’t be scared to make caramel, just be patient and do NOT mess with it while it’s bubbling! And don’t burn it! I think I took it off just in time so I got lucky. I didn’t use a thermometer because the recipe I was using gave visual clues instead so I went with that. I took the bubbling sugar off the heat when it was “deep beige”. I would even take it off a touch earlier than that next time. The whiskey adds a nice complexity to this caramel and goes perfectly with the bread pudding because you know, there is whiskey in there as well!
In the following recipe the granulated sugar in the pudding is optional but I would recommend adding it if you are using a soda bread that is more on the savory side, like the one I posted about. You can also choose to add some raisins to this if you would like.
Irish Soda Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce
(Adapted from “Irish soda bread pudding with Jameson whiskey caramel sauce” on examiner.com)
Makes 6 ramekins or one 2-quart baking dish of bread pudding
Ingredients for the Pudding:
- 1 day-old loaf of Irish soda, ½ if loaf is large (you will need about 3 cups of bread cubes)
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 3 cups whole milk
- 4 tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (omit if using a sweet soda bread to begin with)
- 3 tbsp. Irish whiskey
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Ingredients for the Caramel Sauce:
- 1 ½ cup granulated white sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp. Irish whiskey
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
- ½ cup heavy cream, divided
Directions for the Pudding:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut bread into small cubes and melt butter.
- Brush butter into 6 small ramekins or one 2-quart baking dish
- Combine milk, eggs, maple syrup, whiskey, sugar (if using), vanilla, and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix until combined.
- Place cubes in ramekins (or baking dish)
- Pour the liquid mix over the cubes. Pour enough to come just to the top of the inner lip of the ramekin. Set in the fridge for at least an hour – overnight is better. Add more liquid if needed.
- Bake bread puddings for about 30 minutes (or 45-60 minutes if making one large dish) until the custard is set.
- Allow to cool before pouring the caramel sauce over the top.
Directions for the Caramel Sauce:
- Combine sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Heat until sugar is dissolved.
- Turn heat up to medium and allow the sugar to boil. DO NOT stir or agitate the sugar if you can help it- this could cause crystallization and you will have to start over. If sugar crystals form on the sides, cover pot with a lid to allow the steam to melt the sugar. Boil for about 10-15 minutes or until caramel turns a deep bronze. This happens very quickly and goes from caramel to burn is a matter of seconds.
- Shut off the heat and carefully add the vanilla, 1/3 cup cream, and whiskey. It will bubble up violently, so stand back!
- Turn heat back on medium and let boil, stirring occasionally until the caramel is smooth. Add the remaining cream and stir to combine. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Store leftovers in the fridge.
The bread pudding is good even without the sauce but who doesn’t love a gooey sauce? And yay, now I know how to make caramel!