I made this recipe for St. Patrick’s Day, looking to find a way to combine all of the flavors of an Irish coffee – whiskey, brown sugar, cream, and, of course, coffee – into a bread pudding. I had never really made a lot of bread pudding before working on this recipe, and so I was surprised at the large variation in ingredient amounts I found in different recipes. The amount of bread is usually about the same, but the amounts of milk, eggs, and sugar can vary widely. I tried to get the perfect texture with this bread pudding – crunchy on top, and soft and puddingy underneath.
Notes on Ingredients
Bread – Make sure to use a good quality bread with a good flavor. Bread is the main ingredient here, so no matter what else you add to the pudding, the flavor of the bread is still going to come through. I tried it with a French country loaf and with challah and liked the results – I did not like it so much with a baguette or sliced potato bread. I don’t recommend using sliced bread at all.
Age of Bread – The wide range of ingredient amounts I saw in recipes probably had to do with the age and type of bread used. I used bakery bread that was a few days old – if you were to use stale bread, it makes sense that you would need to add more milk.
Coffee – I used espresso powder to make this recipe. I usually see equal parts instant coffee substituted for espresso powder, but I find it to be a little weaker – If you are using instant coffee, you may want to add a little more.
Cream – Most bread pudding recipes call for butter, but I used cream in this one to keep with the flavor of Irish coffee. You could substitute butter for the cream.
Irish Whiskey – I used Jameson.
Notes on Technique
- I made this recipe a few times without soaking the bread, and a few times soaking it between 2-6 hours. I liked the result best when I soaked it longer – some recipes even call for soaking it overnight. I don’t recommend making it without allowing the bread to soak, because it doesn’t have time to develop the spongy pudding texture that one expects of bread pudding. If you use bread that is somewhat stale, you will probably want to soak the bread for even longer.
Brown Sugar Whiskey Sauce
Bread pudding is often served with Creme Anglaise, or a whiskey sauce. I made this sauce a little thicker by adding two teaspoons of flour, and gave it a strong flavor with the one-fourth cup of whiskey.
Whiskey Sauce Ingredients
Whiskey – If you’d like it a little less strong, you can just omit the two tablespoons of whiskey added in at the end.
Flour – The flour is added here to thicken the sauce a little. You can omit it if you would like for it to be thinner. You could also substitue 1 tsp cornstarch.
Whiskey Sauce Technique
- You should always temper the eggs when making an egg-thickened sauce, pudding, or curd. With this technique, you heat the other ingredients in the sauce, then add the liquid to the egg yolks little by little to raise their temperature slowly before placing them directly on the heat.
- I heated the sauce to 170 F, then used a water bath to cool it immediately. The sauce may separate if kept at a high temperature for too long, so this technique helps prevent overcooking by lowering the temperature quickly.
Irish Coffee Bread Pudding with Brown Sugar Whiskey Sauce
For the Irish Coffee Bread Pudding:
- 2/3 lb good quality bread (300 g) cut into ~1 inch cubes
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (300 g)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp espresso powder or instant coffee
- 1/3 cup Irish whiskey (80 ml)
- 1 2/3 cup milk (390 ml)
- 1/3 cup cream (80 ml)
For the Brown Sugar Whiskey Sauce
- 1/2 cup milk (120 ml)
- 1/2 cup cream (120 ml)
- 2 tbsp Irish whiskey
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 tsp all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (50 g)
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp Irish whiskey
Irish Coffee Bread Pudding
- First, prepare the bread by cutting it into cubes about 3/4 – 1 inch in size.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, and espresso powder. Once these are mixed well, add the whiskey, milk, and cream, and whisk again.
- Stir in the bread cubes until each cube is fully covered, then place in the refrigerator to soak for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Spray an 8×8 inch (20 cm) baking pan with nonstick spray. Pour the bread pudding into the pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes, until the top looks a little crispy.
Brown Sugar Whiskey Sauce
- To prepare a water bath, fill a large bowl about halfway with ice water, then place a large, empty bowl inside of it. Make sure the top bowl is tall enough that it won't sink down beneath the water. Place a sieve nearby.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with a fork, then place near your stove. Have a kitchen themometer nearby as well.
- Add the milk, cream, and whiskey to a 2 quart saucepan. Whisk in the salt, brown sugar, and flour. Cook on low to medium heat, whisking often, until the liquid simmers. The flour will start to thicken around 150° F (65° C).
- When the sauce has thickened a little, turn the heat to low and begin tempering the egg yolks. Pour a serving spoon or medium ladle full of the hot liquid into the egg yolks, whisking constantly until it is completely combined. Add the rest of the liquid one spoon at a time, whisking between each addition.
- Pour the sauce back into the pan and return it to the heat. Cook on low, whisking constantly. The sauce should begin to thicken further after reaching about 150° F (65° C.) Cook until the themometer reads 170° F (~80° C).
- After the sauce reaches 170° F, remove it from the heat and stir in the remaining 2 tbsp whiskey. Then immediately strain it through the sieve into the bowl above the water bath. Stir occasionally, until it has cooled to about 100° F. You can serve it with the bread pudding immediately, or store it in the refrigerator for about 3 days.