I’ve been toying with this recipe for quite some time, and I am finally happy enough with it to share with you. From the crunchy almonds on top, to the tart berries bursting throughout, to the rich, creamy cheesecake filling, this is one delicious, decadent brunch dish.
Think of this as a big pan of creamy, tasty stuffed french toast. Or, think of it as an incredibly simple breakfast or brunch that you can toss together the night before and stick in the oven while you fix yourself a mimosa (or other similar breakfast beverage) and wait for your company to arrive.
This is a fantastic way to use up leftover bread. I never throw bread away unless it has mould on it – any leftover stale bread or heels go right into my freezer for future use.
In this case, I had oodles of leftover white dinner rolls that I’d bought for a party a while back. They were the perfect texture for this dish, and the fact that they were a little bit stale before they went into the freezer helped them retain their texture once the milk/egg mixture was poured over. Fresh, soft bread usually isn’t the best choice for bread pudding as it often turns to mush in the pan.
You can use any berry you like here. Again, I was using up the contents of my freezer, and I had several bags of blueberries left over from a late summer purchase at my farmer’s market. I think for my next batch I’ll try strawberry, since strawberries and cheesecake are old friends and go very well together.
This dish is tasty served either hot or cold, and although I like it for breakfast, it would also be nice as a dessert. Be aware that the pudding isn’t overly sweet, so if you’re serving it to someone with a sweet tooth you may either want to sweeten the mixture a little bit more to suit your taste, or else serve it with a dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of maple syrup, or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.
- 6 heaping cups stale bread cubes
- 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 3 cups whole milk
- 4 eggs
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 1 package (250g) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Butter or spray a 2.5 quart casserole dish and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, make the milk/egg mixture: combine milk, eggs, melted butter, maple syrup, and salt and whisk until well combined.
- In a small bowl, make the cheesecake filling: mash the cream cheese with a fork. Add the sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and stir until incorporated.
- Layer half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the casserole, and top with 1 cup of blueberries. Using a teaspoon, dollop of cheesecake mixture overtop of the berries in an even layer. Top with remaining bread cubes, followed by the 2nd cup of blueberries.
- Pour milk/egg mixture slowly and evenly overtop, making sure all the bread gets moistened (press down with a spatula if necessary). Let sit for at least 1 hour (or up to 24 hours) in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle almonds overtop of pudding. Cover with a lid (or foil) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking for an additional 20-25 minutes, until the top is puffed and golden and the pudding barely jiggles when you shake the dish. Set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Leftovers keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.