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Pear Bread Pudding

Pear Bread Pudding
Kevin D. Weeks for NPR /

Too often, bread pudding is a soggy, eggy mess with muddled flavors and little in the way of character. My friend Q Correll thought the same thing, and as I set out to fix squash soup, he set out to fix bread pudding. I'm happy to report that he succeeded. The keys here are using whole-wheat bread (find something fairly dense; commercial sandwich bread doesn't work) and toasting the bread to give it additional textural character. Q's recipe is for an apple bread pudding, and his last trick was adding apple cider to the custard. This is a pear pudding, but I've adhered to Q's discoveries while tweaking specific ingredients to highlight the pears. I find pear nectar in the Hispanic section at the grocery store.

Makes 4 servings

5 to 6 slices whole-wheat bread

4 eggs

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

3/4 cup milk

1 cup pear cider or pear nectar

1 cup half and half

1/2 cup raisins

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3 ripe pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice


1 cup whipping cream

3 tablespoons amaretto

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Toast bread on both sides until well-browned, and cut into half-inch cubes. You should have 6 to 7 cups.

Whip eggs and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Mix in milk, cider, half and half, vanilla and spices. Add bread, pears and raisins and stir. Pour into a shallow casserole such as a 9-by-13-inch rectangular Pyrex dish.

Place casserole in a larger pan in the middle of the oven and add enough boiling water to large pan to come halfway up the sides of the casserole. Cook for 70 minutes, checking toward the end to be sure water doesn't boil away.

Whip cream to soft peaks, drizzle in amaretto while continuing to whip, and continue until stiff peaks form. Top pudding with cream.

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