This indulgent breakfast, a sort of composed version of French toast, features layers of buttered bread baked into an eggy custard atop a hidden layer of cinnamon-spiced pears. This simple, comforting dish is easy to embellish with other fruits such as apples, or, in summer, peaches or nectarines.
Bread-and-Butter Pudding with Caramelized Pears
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 ripe pears, such as Anjou or Comice, peeled, cored and cut into eighths
1/3 cup (3 oz./90 g) plus 2 tsp. sugar
6 slices day-old challah
2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Confectioners’ sugar for serving
Preheat an oven to 325°F (165°C). Generously grease a 2-quart (2-l) shallow baking dish with 1 Tbs. of the butter.
In a large fry pan, melt 2 Tbs. of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pears and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the 2 tsp. sugar and stir gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears begin to caramelize, about 3 minutes more. Spread in the prepared baking dish.
Butter one side of each of the bread slices with the remaining 3 Tbs. butter. Cut each bread slice in half. Arrange the bread over the pears, buttered side down, in overlapping rows. In a large bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until combined. Pour over the bread. Press the bread lightly to submerge it in the egg mixture. Let stand until the bread has soaked up the egg mixture, 10 to 15 minutes.
Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the bread pudding comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Serve warm. Serves 4 to 6.
Find more great recipes for sunrise specialties in our book
Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers.