I have a weird relationship with bread pudding. This is one of those desserts that I love, but I never order it if it's on the menu. I've had mostly experiences with bread pudding when I was younger, and I have opted to stay away ever since. I really do love bread pudding, but from what I can remember each time I've ordered it all I was served was a soggy pile of mush that used to look like bread. The idea of making bread pudding hadn't crossed my mind for a while, but the other week I had some bread that was getting stale, and it hit me; I needed to make bread pudding.
This bread pudding is a little different than most. It's filled with fresh rhubarb and baked in a coconut milk custard; sounds delicious right? I actually found some rhubarb growing in my backyard, so that's what inspired me to put it in this recipe. Don't worry if you don't have rhubarb, or don't like it, because you can still make this recipe. I made a version of this pudding with chopped strawberries, and it tastes just as delicious! So at least you have another fruit option.
This bread pudding is lightly crisp on top and has a fantastic custardy bottom. I know a lot of people enjoy topping their bread pudding off with a warm sauce, like a creme anglaise, but I opted for good old fashioned whipped cream. John and I ate this bread pudding while it was still pretty warm, so the whipped cream melted into the pudding and basically became a sauce itself, which totally worked for us! I did have every intention of making a coconut whipped cream, but I ran out of coconut milk, so whipped cream it was.
*As a parting tip, don't skip poaching the rhubarb in the recipe. If you do, you'll end up with really firm, sour bits of rhubarb, which is no good, I promise you.
Thank you to Falcon Enamelware for these lovely prep set bowls. Not only are they beautiful, but they are also really durable and stackable which is a huge plus in my kitchen since I'm running out of room.
Coconut Rhubarb bread pudding
2 heaping cups sliced rhubarb, about 1/4 inch thick
1/3 cup plus 6 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, more for greasing
2 large eggs, plus 1 yolk beaten
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked coconut, plus more for garnishing
6 cups cubed egg bread like challah or brioche, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
powdered sugar, for dusting
whipped cream, for serving
Equipment: 1 small skillet (I used an 8.5 inch), 1 saucepan, whisk, 5-6 cup baking dish
In a small skillet add the chopped rhubarb, along with 6 tablespoons brown sugar and 1/2 cup water, or enough water to cover the rhubarb. Bring the rhubarb to a simmer over medium heat, adjusting heat as necessary. Let rhubarb simmer for 4-5 minutes until tender, but not falling apart. Gently strain the rhubarb and set aside.
In another small saucepan set over low heat, warm the milk, butter, salt, and remaining sugar. Continue warming the milk just until butter melts. Remove saucepan from heat and set aside.
Butter a 4-to-6-cup baking dish and fill half of it with the cubed bread, then gently scatter half of the rhubarb over the top. Repeat this process one more time.
Whisk the eggs, vanilla, and shredded coconut into the milk mixture until combined. Pour the milk mixture over the bread, making sure to everything get soaked.
Let the bread pudding rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. After 15 minutes of resting, pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Before baking, sprinkle a some extra flakes over the top, then place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until custard is set, and the edges of the bread have browned. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dusting of powdered sugar and dollop of whipped cream.