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
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Ingredients

Directions

  • 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.

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  • 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.

Tips

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

Nutrition Facts

215 calories; 7 g total fat; 106 mg cholesterol; 134 mg sodium. 31.1 g carbohydrates; 7.8 g protein; Full Nutrition

Reviews (17)

17 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 2
  • 4 star values: 15
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 0
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
11/04/2011
I've died and gone to bread pudding heaven! Delicious! I made this tonight and I don't want to stop eating it! I live in Mazatlan so I love anything flan-like and this fit the bill. I used a crusty Mexican bread instead of whole wheat added a handful of raisins and since we love nutmeg used 1/4 teaspoon instead of 1/8th and added an extra tablespoon each of butter and sugar to carmelize with the pears. This was incredible! I look forward to trying it with apples and using cinnamon instead of nutmeg. Or maybe pineapple and brown sugar and make an upside down pineapple bread pudding. YUM! But I'll always go back to the pear version. Excellent. Pros: easy to make impressive delicious! Cons: It takes a while to prepare though it's easy.
Rating: 5 stars
11/03/2014
Delicious I used almond milk raisin bread and added walnuts. Pros: easy
Rating: 4 stars
10/31/2011
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
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Rating: 4 stars
08/10/2013
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
Rating: 4 stars
10/31/2011
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
Rating: 4 stars
10/31/2011
This bread pudding was very tasty and presented beautifully although the sauce had been absorbed by the bread. I used granny smith apples instead of pears since I had several on hand. Also I turned the bread pudding out after cooling for only 10 minutes instead of 45 as some of my guests needed to leave soon. I would not hesitate to make this again. Served alongside homemeade vanilla ice cream. Anonymous Virginia Beach va
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Rating: 4 stars
10/29/2011
The bread pudding was good fresh out of the oven but became more delicious after sitting in the fridge for two days. Instead of raisins I added dried cranberries. The caramel topping didnt turn out great so after flipping the bread pudding onto a plate I transferred it to a baking sheet and placed it under the broiler to complete the caramel process for a few minutes. Watch it carefully though it can get too done quickly. I will be preparing this two days before Thanksgiving and taking it to the family dinner; )
Rating: 4 stars
10/29/2011
This recipe was not outrageously appealing to my own palate. Lots of time not lots of flavor.
Rating: 4 stars
10/29/2011
The bread pudding itself is bland. The pear syrup and raisins add some good flavors. If I were to try this recipe again I would add more raisins and at least one more pear. I would also use a wider pan so that the bread pudding is thinner overall and I can get a piece of the caramelized pear with every bite.