Sweet caramelized pears are the highlight of this comforting, custardy, raisin-studded bread pudding. When turned out of its baking dish, the flanlike pudding sits in a pool of intense caramel syrup, making it worthy of any holiday table. Serve warm or chilled.

Marie Simmons
Source: EatingWell Magazine, October/November 2006


Recipe Summary

2 hrs 45 mins
Nutrition Profile:


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring, until steaming, 4 to 6 minutes. Whisk eggs in a large bowl until blended; gradually whisk in 1/4 cup sugar. Slowly whisk in the hot milk until blended. Whisk in vanilla, lemon zest and nutmeg.

  • Add bread and raisins (or currants) to the milk mixture; gently fold together. Press down lightly with the back of a large spoon. Cover and set aside at room temperature.

  • Butter the bottom and sides of a round 2-quart baking dish with 1 teaspoon butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

  • Cut each pear half lengthwise into 4 slices. Place in a medium bowl and toss with lemon juice.

  • Heat a medium skillet over low heat until hot. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and swirl until just melted and the foam subsides. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup sugar over the melted butter. Arrange the pear slices on their sides in the pan in an even layer. Increase the heat to medium-low and, without stirring, let the pears begin to brown and the sauce slowly caramelize, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent burning, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully turn each pear slice with a fork. Return to the heat and cook until the sauce is uniformly golden, 2 to 4 minutes more.

  • Carefully transfer the pears one at a time to the prepared baking dish, arranging them decoratively in a circle and slightly overlapping them if necessary. Use a heatproof silicone spatula to scrape any remaining syrup over the pears.

  • Set the baking dish in a shallow baking pan. Spoon the bread and custard mixture into the baking dish. Press down on the bread until it is submerged in the custard. Place the pan in the oven and carefully add the hot water to the shallow baking pan until it is halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

  • Bake until the pudding is browned on top and set in the center, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Carefully remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let cool for at least 45 minutes. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the pudding. Place a serving platter over it and invert the pudding onto the platter.


Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Nutrition Facts

215 calories; protein 7.8g; carbohydrates 31.1g; dietary fiber 2.2g; sugars 22.5g; fat 7g; saturated fat 3.5g; cholesterol 105.7mg; vitamin a iu 388.5IU; vitamin c 2.5mg; folate 22.1mcg; calcium 139.5mg; iron 0.9mg; magnesium 22.9mg; potassium 205.6mg; sodium 133.7mg; thiamin 0.1mg.

Reviews (17)

Read More Reviews
17 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 2
  • 4 star values: 15
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 4 stars
I made this for Christmas Eve and all my guests raved about it! Joanne Keyport NJ Read More
Rating: 4 stars
I was not 100% pleased with this recipe but perhaps what will benefit the recipe most is another try. My result produced a pretty but bland dessert. My sauce did not caramelize in the time recommended by the recipe -- maybe because I was afraid of overcooking the pears. Without the benefit of caramel the recipe had little else going for it though the texture was perfect. I'd recommend adding CINNAMON to diminish the blandness factor. Jason Evanson IL Read More
Rating: 4 stars
I made this for my grandma a bread pudding fan. She loved it. Now every time I see her she asks me to make it again. It has a beautiful presantation if you take the time to arrange the pears nicely. I also found that using Craisians is a bigger hit then the raisians. Anonymous Los Angeles CA Read More
Rating: 4 stars
The bread pudding tasted bland and looked like a beige lump not at all like the elegant dessert featured in the photo. The caramel topping did not turn out. It was simply integrated with the pudding. I've made creme caramel and other variations before so I don't think I got the technique wrong. A big dissapointment. Anonymous Vancouver BC Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Simple Classic and No Need to Shop I decided I wanted to bake an afternoon treat when visiting my parents but didn't want to have to go to the shop. This was perfect with simple common ingredients and a virtually fool proof recipe. I substituted pears for apples and put in cinnamon to compliment the fruit and put in 40g of sultanas as I really love them. I followed the recipe otherwise exactly as written it was perfectly baked at 1 hour on the dot. My husband who doesn't like saltanas liked it too but we both agreed that additional vanilla and using raisin toast as others have suggested would have made it even better. It definitely would have been bland without the cinnamon we put in and another half or full apple would be required to cover the top in full! Love it will definitely make it again! Pros: Easy to prepare Uses common household ingredients Cons: Lacks flavour if additional spices aren't added Read More
Rating: 4 stars
This recipe was not outrageously appealing to my own palate. Lots of time not lots of flavor. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
Love it! I read the other reviews about how this is the best bread pudding ever and how they died and went to Heaven. They were right! It's a wonderful not too sweet custard and the caramelized pears are delicious. I will say however that people who think a dessert has to be covered in fudge and whipped cream may be disappointed. This is a much more sophisticated dessert.:) Pros: Delicious and easy Cons: Not your typical dessert. Read More
Rating: 4 stars
This was excellent. I made it with whole wheat bread raisin bread. I didn't have enough pears so I mixed added some apples. I also added a little apple brandy to the pudding before baking which gave it a nice touch. I also doubled the caramel topping. I served it warm to my dinner guests and they raved about it. Read More
Rating: 5 stars
Delicious I used almond milk raisin bread and added walnuts. Pros: easy Read More