Oh, the sacrifices I make for you, my readers.

I’m as fond of bread pudding as the next person, heaven knows, but it took me several tries to make sure the advice I’m passing on to you is foolproof and easy to follow.  Several tries.  Many variations.  All for you!  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Bread pudding is the quintessential way to use up the crusts of a loaf of store-bought bread, or that last stale bun.  It’s comfort food on a chilly evening.  It’s infinitely variable, so you can indulge your passion for the flavor of caramel, or chocolate, or berries.  Best of all, this recipe uses just one slice of bread, and one egg.  That’s the same as half a sandwich!  You can make it as sweet (or not) as you choose, and it can be rich (use cream) or skinny (use milk). If you have been forsaking sweets for a long time, bread pudding is the perfect way to break the fast.  Break — fast …. breakfast …. perhaps there’s something there as well.  I’m sure you have everything in the fridge to try this out.

Sweet Bread Pudding For One


  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar (see options)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup milk or cream (see options)
  • 1 slice of bread cut into 1cm cubes (or about 1 slightly-generous cup of cubes)
  • Butter to grease baking dish and ½ tsp to dot the top; ½ tsp additional sugar (optional) for topping


Preheat the (toaster)oven to 350°F (this is important – do it first).  Butter a small baking dish, an oven-safe soup dish or a large oven-safe latte cup that will hold at least 1 ½ cups of liquid.  A deep dish works better than a shallow one.  In a pinch you could mix everything right in your baking dish, but I find that a bit messy.

So — in a separate small bowl, using a fork, beat the egg with sugar, vanilla and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds.

Add the milk; whisk with the fork to combine.

Add the bread cubes.  Turn them over in the egg mixture so they’re completely coated.  Let them soak for a bit, maybe a minute or so.

Pour everything into the buttered baking dish.  The bread mixture puffs up, so don’t fill it right up to the rim — overflow messes are a chore to clean up, and smell like burning hair.  Don’t ask me how I know this.

For extra beauty and deliciousness, dot with tiny pieces of butter and sprinkle with additional sugar.

Bake in the pre-heated 350°F (toaster) oven for about 25 minutes, or until well-puffed, and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.  You don’t want raw custard in the middle.

That’s plain bread pudding on the left, and Apple, Cranberry and Almond bread pudding on the right.  Are you ready to get creative?

Lots of Options:

Raisins and cinnamon are a classic addition to bread pudding, but you can add a couple of tablespoons of any kind of berry, fresh or dried, or diced stone fruit (nectarines, plums, peaches) or chopped apple or pear or banana – just fold the fruit in with the bread cubes.  Orange zest is really nice, or lemon zest in addition to other fruit.  Nuts are good too.  Try some coconut, dried or fresh pineapple, and a little bit of orange zest – outstanding!

You can use just about any sweetener instead of brown sugar:  white sugar is fine.  If you’re using something liquid, like honey or agave nectar, two teaspoons should be enough – you’ll have to experiment to find out how sweet you want your bread pudding to be.  I made a wonderful trial batch with maple syrup and chopped pecans. (That was Monday lunch — no photo; I ate it.)

Vanilla is never a bad idea – it adds the impression of sweetness without additional sugar.  You could add just about any liqueur, either instead of vanilla or in addition.  A little shot of rum, for instance, would turn that pineapple/coconut idea into “Pina Colada Bread Pudding”.

In addition to the vanilla, spices can make your dessert unique.  The classic mixture of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves makes “Spice Bread Pudding”, good with a spoonful of brown-sugar sweetened sour cream or yogurt.  Use molasses as the sweetener, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger and a pinch of cinnamon, and you have “Gingerbread Bread Pudding”, wonderful with a spoonful of lemon curd or applesauce, if you happen to have that handy. How about dried  apricots, orange zest and cardamom? With pistachios on top?

If you want a chocolate bread pudding, use hot chocolate mix or chocolate milk mix instead of sugar, or a teaspoon or two of dry cocoa powder as well as brown sugar.  Add a little shot of bourbon if you have it, and a few chocolate chips for extra deliciousness.  Or how about “Rocky Road Bread Pudding”, with the addition of a few mini marshmallows, some chopped walnuts or pecans, and chocolate chips?

You can go as low as 2% milk if you are trying to avoid fat calories, but if you use skim, I think you’ll find the end result pretty bland and boring.  Fat carries flavor, and that’s a fact.  Even if you use whipping cream, you’re probably not getting any more butterfat than you would spread on a piece of toast, or a grilled cheese sandwich at most.  I have used the fat-free creamer from the dairy case with good results – it’s made from skim milk, and you trade the fat for a bit of sugar and several interesting stabilizers.  While I haven’t personally tried it, I’ll bet coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, even rice milk would probably all work reasonably well.  Choose an unsweetened product:  if you use a sweetened one, you will need to reduce or even eliminate the sugar in the recipe – it all depends on how sweet your non-dairy-milk is, and how sweet you want your bread pudding to be.

Any kind of bread is fine, except perhaps left-over garlic toast (and we’ll discuss that another time).  Banana bread!  I have made killer bread pudding with left-over pancakes, and another time with stale cinnamon buns.  I will leave the crusts-on/crusts-off decision to you.  If you’re using sandwich bread, they’re not a problem.  If you’re a “crusts-off” person, you will need slightly more than 1 slice of bread to get your cup of cubes.  If you really exceed one cup of cubes, I’ll warn you now that your bread pudding will be dense and dry.

To really pamper yourself, add a drizzle of maple syrup to the finished bread pudding, or a dollop of fruity yogurt, or whipped cream (you have a squirty can in the fridge right now, right?  Or Dream Whip in the freezer?), or ice cream.  You can make a quick fruit sauce by melting a spoonful of jam with a few drops of water in the microwave – it takes about 30 seconds on half-power, but watch it ‘cause it boils over or burns in a flash.

Here’s a scenario for all you solo-diners out there.  When you’ve had a long day, and you need to show yourself a little kindness, put together a serving of bread pudding with your own special customized ingredients, and pop it in the toaster-oven.  Now go get into your jammies while it bakes.  When the timer pings, curl up with your special treat, an afghan, and a favorite book or tv show – life doesn’t get much cozier that that!

Double Chocolate Pecan.  Going….going…..gone