Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bread Pudding Souffle from the Palace

This week’s selection from the Gourmet Live 50 WomenGame-Changers that I and a group of my fellow food bloggers post about each Friday is Ella Brennan. She has been a fixture in the New Orleans restaurant scene for more than 65 years and is the matriarch of a family that operates a dozen restaurants, including the world famous Commander's Palace, for which she is best known. (She lives in a home behind the restaurant.) This restaurant has been the launching point for many of the city’s most famous chefs, including Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme. Mostly retired now, she is still known to show up in one of the restaurants a few times each week.

I love New Orleans cuisine and was excited to make the Commander’s Palace Bread Pudding Souffle. Unfortunately, too little time and a bad cold virus kept me out of the kitchen this week.

I’ve made many bread puddings in the past, both sweet and savory. For the dessert variety, I like to use cinnamon raisin bread and add even more raisins and nuts. Instead of a whiskey sauce, I just top it with a little heavy cream. Yum.

I like the savory style, also known as Italian strata, for breakfast. I make it with bacon, onions and cheese. This dish even tastes great the next day!

Just about any bread pudding recipe can be adapted to fit your tastes. However, this one has the added twist of being a souffle with whipped egg whites folded into the mix after it bakes.

When I do get time to make it, I’ll let you know what I think. If you give the recipe a try, please share your thoughts!

Image from
Commander’s Palace Bread Pudding Souffle

Bread Pudding:
Butter, for greasing pan and ramekins
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
3 medium eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups New Orleans French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (see Cook's Note below)
1/3 cup raisins

Whiskey Sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup bourbon

9 medium egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

Cook's Note: New Orleans French bread is very light and tender. If another style of bread is used that is too dense, it will soak up all the custard and the recipe won't work.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs until smooth, and then work in the heavy cream. Add the vanilla, stir to combine, and then the bread cubes. Let stand so that bread soaks up custard.

Place the raisins in the greased pan. Top with the bread mixture, which prevents the raisins from burning. Bake for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the pudding has a golden brown color and is firm to the touch. If a toothpick inserted in the pudding comes out clean, it is done. The mixture should be moist, not runny or dry. Cool to room temperature.

Make the whiskey sauce: Place cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Whisk cornstarch and water together, and add to cream while whisking. Bring to a boil. Whisk and let simmer for a few seconds, taking care not to burn the mixture on the bottom. Remove from heat. Stir in the sugar and the bourbon. Taste to make sure the sauce has a thick consistency, a sufficiently sweet taste, and a good bourbon flavor. Cool to room temperature.

Make the meringue: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 6 (6-ounce) ramekins and set aside. Make certain that the bowl and whisk are completely clean. The egg whites should be completely free of yolk, and they will whip better if they are at room temperature. This dish needs a good, stiff meringue. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), whip egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add the sugar gradually, and continue whipping until shiny and thick. Test with a clean spoon. If the whites stand up stiff, like shaving cream when you pull out the spoon, the meringue is ready. Do not over-whip, or the whites will break down and the souffle will not work.

In a large bowl, break half of the bread pudding into pieces using your hands or a spoon.

Gently fold in 1/4 of the meringue, being careful not to lose the air in the whites. Add a portion of this base to each of the ramekins. Place the remaining bread pudding in the bowl, break into pieces, and carefully fold in the rest of the meringue. Top off the souffles with this lighter mixture. Smooth and shape tops with a spoon into a dome over the ramekin rim.

Bake immediately for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Using a spoon, at the table, poke a hole in the top of each souffle, and pour the room temperature whiskey sauce inside the souffle.

Also, be sure to check out my fellow food bloggers to see what they prepared to honor Ella Brennan:

Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia -A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie -Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Barbara - Movable Feasts
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Amy - Beloved Green
Jeanette - Healthy Living
Linda - Ciao Chow Linda
Nancy - Picadillo
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia – Journey of An Italian Cook
Alyce – More Time at the Table
Amrita – Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades


  1. It sure sounds delicious. I m glad you are on the mend as well.

  2. I've never made a bread pudding and I think I have to try this one, the souffle aspect really tempts me, it must be delicious. I'm so glad you got a shot of the restaurant, it looks so grand.

  3. I love Bread pudding. I have made it many times. It is very comforting. I usually make it for desert. You could eat it for breakfast if you like. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. How intriguing that they're whipped in after baking...I'd love to try this one day. What a beautiful building that is!

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  6. I have it bookmarked - the bread pudding is quintessential southern-delicious. Glad you are starting to feel better!

  7. Awww Linda, I hope you feel better! I know this dish tastes absolutely delicious because I made something similar a couple of days back and I ate nearly all of it, leaving my husband sad! :D

  8. This sounds delicious! I love bread pudding...this seems to kick it up a notch! Very nice!