CHEF DEZ: cranberry bread pudding instead of pumpkin pie

How about Cranberry Bread Pudding instead of Pumpkin Pie?              

A traditional dessert at Thanksgiving is pumpkin pie, but there are so many other options that would feel just as seasonal.

One of my favorites is Cranberry Bread Pudding.

Bread puddings usually utilize leftover stale bread, but I prefer to use a fresh loaf of French bread and toast it in the oven instead. The results are far superior.             

When it first comes from the oven it will be puffed up and beautiful, but don’t be alarmed to see it shrink down as it cools, this is normal. When it comes to serving, a premium vanilla bean ice cream is a wonderful addition. I hope it becomes a favorite with your family too.

Cranberry Bread Pudding

"A combination of both fresh and dried cranberries makes for a flavourful and more complex cranberry taste"  

  • 1 – 454g (1 pound) French loaf

  • 4 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 ¼ (one and a quarter) cups sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  • ¼ (one quarter) tsp salt Zest from 2 lemons, finely chopped

  • 2 cups 10 per cent MF cream (half and half)

  • 2 cups milk (2%MF or 3.5%Homogenized)

  • ¾ (three quarters) cup sweetened dried cranberries

  • ¾ (three quarters) cup cranberries (fresh or frozen), halved vanilla bean ice cream, optional  

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Tear the French bread into approximate 1 inch to 2 inch chunks and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, tossing the pieces around about halfway through. Remove from the oven and let sit while you prepare the rest of the pudding.

  2. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×13 baking dish by buttering it.

  3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and the zest thoroughly.

  4. Whisk in the cream and milk. Add the toasted bread pieces and the dried cranberries and toss together thoroughly with your hands.

  5. Let sit for 10 minutes for the bread pieces to absorb.

  6. Put one half of the custard soaked bread mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with half of the fresh/frozen halved cranberries.

  7. Add the remaining bread mixture (and scrape all liquid from the bowl) to the dish and top with the remaining fresh/frozen halved cranberries.

  8. Bake for approximately 1 hour until the top browns and puffs up. Also an inserted butter knife should come out clean.

  9. Let sit for at least 10 to 15 minutes before serving warm with vanilla bean ice cream.  

  10. Makes 10 to 12 portions

  Chef Dez is a Food Columnist, Culinary Instructor  Cookbook Author. Visit him at Write to him at or P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6R4

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