Bring your sweet tooth and fire up your Big Green Egg! Today we present a classic comfort food with a barbecue twist, courtesy of Valerie Gordon, celebrated chef, confectioner, and the emcee of the BBQ Bootcamp held at the scenic Alisal Guest Ranch.
In this recipe, Valerie's many passions collide to produce a result you'll want to head right out and try for yourself.
Go ahead, get some charcoal started in the BGE now, then come back and finish the video while it heats up. If you're hungry, like we were when we watched this, you'll want to get this in the pan and on the grill pronto. And if you aren't hungry, we're betting you will be after this.
Credits: The screenshots in this post were taken from the video above by Valerie Gordon. We've outlined the video in writing so you can follow along with ease.
A Frugal Hack Goes Gourmet
Bread pudding originates in 11th century England, when penny-pinching cooks gave stale bread a second life by boiling it with water, sugar, and spices. The result was aptly dubbed "poor man's pudding"—and I'll be honest, that stuff doesn't sound all that tasty.
But bread pudding marched on, picking up eggs and milk as standard ingredients and invading cuisines around the world. In the hands of creative chefs, it evolved into countless delicious variations. While modern bread pudding has moved beyond its "poor-man's food" reputation, thrifty cooks still rely on it to transmute unwanted bread scraps into the comfort food we know and love.
On the spectrum of "hardship food" to "gourmet confection," Valerie's bread pudding is solidly on the gourmet end. There are no leftovers involved here. Instead, she's using a fresh brioche loaf for the bread. The high egg and butter content of brioche is ideal for bread pudding and produces a dessert suited to the most refined palate.
Let's make some bread pudding!
Get the Supplies for Black and Blue Bread Pudding
All the gear for this recipe (or similar options) are available from our specialty barbecue supply store. To get what you need, you can visit our website using the links below.
Ingredients for Black and Blue Bread Pudding
- 2 loaves brioche or soft white bread
- 1 pint prepared black and blue jam (see recipe below)
- 1 quart prepared custard (see recipe below)
- 1 pint mixed blackberries and blueberries for the fruit layer and garnish
- 1/4 cup butter for greasing the skillet
- Whipped cream
Steps for Black and Blue Bread Pudding
Valerie has the luxury of working with two Eggs here, a MiniMax and an XL, and she gets to show off both in this recipe. Of course, you can also make this recipe on your kitchen range, you'll just sacrifice the extra fun and flavor imparted by fire and smoke.
Step 1: Prepare the Bread
Remove the crusts from both brioche loaves and slice them into cubes.
Step 2: Make the Jam
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1 pint blackberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
Valerie uses an open flame in the BGE MiniMax to cook the jam for about ten minutes, stirring continually until it cooks down into a glorious syrupy goo.
If you're following along, you may be tempted to stop at this point and just start eating the jam. Please wait, it's worth it!
Take the jam off the flame, pour it into a heat-resistant bowl, and let it cool.
Step 3: Make the Custard
- 1 pint heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Valerie mixes the cream and whole milk first, pours them into the Dutch oven, and places them over the open flame in the MiniMax until they come to a simmer. While she waits for the milk and cream to heat up, Valerie prepares the egg mixture, thoroughly mixing the sugar, vanilla, and salt with the eggs.
When the milk and cream reach a simmer, it's time to mix the dairy with the eggs to create the custard. This is the trickiest part of the recipe, but it really isn't complicated. The secret to custard is to pour the heated cream mixture into the eggs gradually while whisking the two together (a process known as "tempering" the eggs.
To make this step easier, Valerie places a folded towel under the egg bowl to help hold it still while the cream is poured in.
When you're done, you should have a rich, creamy, smooth, off-white mixture, with the eggs and cream fully integrated. Congrats, your custard is good to go!
Step 4: Put It All Together
Now for the fun! Wash your hands well and add the cream to the bread cubes in a mixing bowl. Smush them together with your hands and keep smushing until they are well combined and the bread is thoroughly soaked through with the custard mix.
Grab a 10-inch skillet and smear it with lots of butter to help your bread pudding separate from the pan after baking and to give it a delicious brown crust. Valerie uses 1/4 cup, so don't be stingy!
Spread the wet bread mixture across the entire pan to about half its depth, leaving no gaps. Cover the bread with a layer of fresh berries, then cover the berries with the rest of the bread mixture and press it to an even depth.
Step 5: The Cook
With the XL Big Green Egg set up for indirect heat and preheated to 350 degrees F, Valerie drops the skillet full of bread pudding right in the middle of the grate and closes the lid. Leave it there for half an hour or so until it starts to puff up and brown, then spread the berry jam across the top.
Garnish with whipped cream, edible flowers, or anything else that strikes your fancy. And don't plan on leftovers.
It's All Yours!
This berry bread pudding is perfect to add as a dessert to a dinner cooked on your Big Green Egg. It could also work as a great addition to a charcoal-fired weekend brunch.
One thing that makes bread pudding so fun is that there are as many kinds of bread pudding as there are cooks. Switch up the fruits, add chocolate, caramel, marshmallows, or almost anything else you can think of. Juice the flavor with your favorite spices. With a creative mind, one or two Big Green Eggs, and a few bags of charcoal, who knows where you'll end up?
You can find all the supplies and equipment to make Black and Blue Bread Pudding and much, much more in our online store or at our brick-and-mortar specialty barbecue supply store at 140 W Main Street in New Holland, PA.
Check the bottom of the page for store hours.