Irish Bread Pudding & Whiskey Sauce

Bread Pudding closeupThis week we’re sharing the recipe for one of our favorite desserts, spiked with an Irish twist just in time for St. Patrick’s Day: Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce.

We love to make bread pudding for several reasons, especially for dinner parties or bruncheons. For one thing, it’s a large-batch dessert and ridiculously easy to make, and can be made in advance and refrigerated, or even frozen, until ready to serve.

Next, it’s a great way to utilize stale or leftover bread, tastes delicious and is always a crowd-pleaser. In fact, we’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good bread pudding. We prefer to use artisan-style breads like the French bread or baguettes from the Fargo Breadsmith store, but rustic dinner rolls or even Irish soda bread would also work great. Stay away from ordinary sliced bread, as it just doesn’t have the heft to create an excellent bread pudding.

This is a classic bread pudding recipe which can be served as is or embellished in myriad ways by adding raisins or other dried fruit. F or this special occasion we’re keeping it Irish by adding a tablespoon of Jameson Irish Whiskey  and serving it with an Irish whiskey sauce.

Whenever we include a liquor in a recipe we will invariably receive an email asking if it’s safe for kids to eat. This is such a good question. As long as the liquor is cooked into the recipe, as it is here in both the bread pudding and the sauce, or in a savory sauce, then the alcohol content evaporates during the process, making the dish safe for any age to enjoy.

Because of the high egg content, bread pudding is typically cooked in a water bath at a low temperature, in this case, 300 degrees. The water bath is essential as it keeps the eggs from scrambling and ensures that the dish will be gently and evenly baked.

The Irish whiskey sauce requires a little more technique but is well worth the extra effort. It can be served immediately or refrigerated for several days, or even frozen for up to one month. The base of the sauce is a classic vanilla sauce, also known as a crème anglaise.

To make the sauce, you’ll need to scald the milk first, which helps to infuse any added flavors into the milk, in this case, the vanilla extract. Scalding is not scorching – cook the milk over medium heat just until it starts to boil and becomes frothy, then remove immediately from the heat and cool at room temperature for several minutes.

Next, egg yolks and sugar are whisked together until the mixture becomes very thick and pale yellow in color. Tony uses a whisk to mix his sauce, but it takes several minutes for the sauce to thicken and his muscles are bigger than mine, so I prefer to use my electric handheld or stand mixer instead.

The two mixtures are then combined by adding the cooled milk in a slow, steady stream to the egg and sugar mixture, and then the sauce is returned to the sauce pot to cook over medium-low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the Irish whiskey, stir and serve by pouring over the bread pudding.

Irish Whiskey Sauce

Have a Happy St. Patty’s Day and may the luck of the Irish be ever with you!

Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce

7 large eggs
1½  cups heavy cream
1½  cups milk
1 tbsp. honey
½ cup sugar
1½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Irish whiskey (optional)
¾ lbs. cubed day-old bread – use artisan-style breads or dinner rolls, or even Irish soda bread, but NOT sliced bread

Pre-heat oven to 300° F.

Combine the eggs, cream, milk, honey, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the bread cubes and mix together. Cover with a damp towel and let the mixture soak for 30 minutes at room temperature. Bake at 300° F for one hour in a water bath until golden brown.

Cool slightly and serve with Irish Whiskey Sauce.

To Store: Keep in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week. Bread pudding can also be frozen before or after baking. For best results, reheat in microwave before serving whether refrigerated or frozen.

Tony’s Tips:

  • To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the thickest part of the pudding – when it comes out crumb-free, it’s ready.
  • For an easy sauce, melt a good-quality vanilla ice cream and add the whiskey once it’s liquid.
  • Jameson whiskey is our preference, but any Irish whiskey will do.

Irish Whiskey Sauce

1 teaspoon corn starch
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
3 egg yolks
3 ½ tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Irish whiskey

Dissolve corn starch in 2 tablespoons of milk and set aside. In a small sauce pot, scald the remaining milk and vanilla over medium heat until the edges start to bubble. Remove from heat and add the corn starch mixture into the scalded milk. Stir to incorporate then cool at room temperature for at least five minutes.

Use a whisk or electric mixer to mix the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale yellow in color, about five minutes. Keep whisking and add the cooled-down milk in a slow, steady stream until fully combined.

Return the mixture back to the sauce pot and gently cook over medium-low heat while stirring, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Be careful not to bring the sauce to a boil. Stir in the Irish whiskey and remove from stove.

Serve immediately over bread pudding or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days. Reheat before use if desired.

Tony’s Tips:

  • Sauce can be frozen for up to one month.
  • Irish cream liqueur or any other flavored liqueur would also work great.

Peppermint Bark & Panettone Bread Pudding

Welcome to “Home with The Lost Italian” on AreaVoices! We are so happy that you have found us here. Tony and I are enjoying our new roles as food columnists for The Forum, and love having this opportunity to share our passion for food, wine and life with you.

Our column appears in the SheSays section of The Forum every Wednesday, and we’ll also feature it here on the blog every Thursday. On some occasions, due to space limitations, our weekly column gets edited in order to accommodate the accompanying photos and recipes. So, every Thursday, you can find the full, unedited version right here on AreaVoices. Throughout the week, we’ll also post about what we’re cooking at home, at Sarello’s, and hopefully even about what some of you are cooking at home, too!

This week’s column is all about holiday baking, and what makes this time of year special for us. We hope you enjoy the recipes and would love to hear from you. Please send us any questions or suggestions you may have about food, wine, Italy, or whatever else is on your mind. You can post right here on the blog in the comments section, or send us an email to: We’ll answer your questions every Monday right here on the blog.

(excerpts of this post appeared in the Nov. 28 edition of The Forum) 

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday season is now fully upon us. We love this time of year, and everything that comes with the holidays: the music, parties, decorations, bell ringers, and just the general good cheer in the air. But, what we look forward to the most is baking holiday goodies with our eight-year-old son, Giovanni.

In our home we begin our baking tradition on the day after Thanksgiving, and each year we always start with the same special treat, Peppermint Bark. My mother made Peppermint Bark for us every year when I was growing up, and it has now become Giovanni’s favorite. The peppermint flavor shines in this mixture of creamy and crunchy textures, and it’s always good to have on hand near the mistletoe. All year long we look forward to the Friday after Thanksgiving, and hail the return of Peppermint Bark to our home.

This pretty holiday candy is delicious to eat and easy to make. All you need is one pack of white almond bark, twelve large candy canes, peppermint extract and wax paper. When I started making Peppermint Bark with Giovanni six years ago, I used a food processor to chop the candy canes instead of smashing them to bits in a plastic bag. I did this mostly for convenience, but this technique ended up creating a more refined texture to the candy, which turned out to be a hit among our family and friends.

Peppermint Bark’s soft pink color provides a nice contrast when placed on a holiday cookie platter, adding a lovely burst of color among a sea of brown-toned goodies. It also makes a great hostess or teacher gift when packaged in holiday trimmings.

Tony’s recipe this week features a traditional Italian fruitcake called Panettone, which originated in the city of Milan. Not to be confused with our American version of fruitcake, Panettone is a light, moist, flavorful cake more like a bread, with candied orange peel, lemon zest and raisins. It is wonderful served in slices after a meal, or even for breakfast. On this occasion, however, Tony uses it to spice up a traditional comfort dessert, with his recipe for Panettone Bread Pudding.

“Panettone is the King of Christmas Cakes in Italian culture,” Tony says. “In Etobicoke, the Toronto neighborhood where I grew up, the grocery stores and bakeries would be stacked with huge displays of Panettone. Big, bright boxes in every color, tied with fancy ribbons, all ready to give to your friends and loved ones. To me, Panettone signifies, hey, Christmas is here now.”

“Bread pudding is a popular dessert found in many countries, and originated as a way to use leftover bread.” Tony says. “I like using the Panettone for this recipe, because the bread is already filled with the flavors of the holiday season.”

“We use bread pudding in both savory and sweet dishes at Sarello’s,” Tony says. “But what I like about bread pudding even more than its versatility, is how easy it is to make .”

Soaking the Panettone in the wet ingredients before baking ensures that every piece of bread is moist. To further ensure the outcome, place your baking dish in a water bath to prevent the bread pudding from burning, curdling or drying out during baking.

For this occasion, we served the bread pudding with fresh berries and a dollop of vanilla gelato. Tony took it one step further and drizzled a bit of Sarello’s Chocolate Zabaglione over the top – a touch that was a big hit with our food photographer, Dave. But you can also enjoy it with our homemade Caramel Sauce, a recipe we featured over the Thanksgiving holiday.

With only twenty-six shopping days left before Christmas, keep your baking schedule easy and fun with these simple, yet crowd-pleasing, recipes. To get the recipes, just click on the links provided below.

Panettone Bread Pudding
Peppermint Bark
Caramel Sauce