Smoked Bread Pudding

Vanilla cinnamon bread pudding cooked over charcoal and wood - a smoky version of a traditional British dessert.
smoked bread pudding

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Roast Beef. Fish and Chips. Trifle. Jelly and Custard. Spotted Dick. Bread Pudding. All traditional British food, made on a budget, and ridiculed the world over. 

Bread Pudding in particular holds a special place in my heart. My dad used to make it with me as an 8-year-old boy when mum was out with her friends for the evening, and I used to love it. 

It’s my first memory of actually helping to cook anything regularly. Dad’s Bread Pudding was overly sweet, sugary, soggy and often undercooked. It was great!

My version today is an upgraded, pimped out, jacked up version of a traditional British Bread Pudding, using an Easter classic, hot cross buns. Paired with the traditional flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, with cream and eggs. I’ve also added in some white chocolate and cranberries for a decadent, rich and delicious twist. The added smokiness of cooking over charcoal and wood just finishes this dessert perfectly.

If you struggle to find hot cross buns, you can use regular white bread, croissants, even donuts. In fact, I’d encourage you to experiment! 

What is Bread Pudding?

It is believed to have first been listed in the 18th Century British Cookbook/Household Help Guide “The Compleat Housewife”, although I doubt this name would get a publisher’s checkmark in this day and age.

It consisted of a baking dish lined with puff pastry and then layered with penny loaf with butter, raisins and currants in alternating layers. A thickened spice cream was then poured over it with orange blossom water, before being baked in the oven. It was listed as “A Bread and Butter Pudding for Fasting Days”, and called for the bread to be stale – which is still the recommendation in many recipes today. 

Many other countries also have a Bread Pudding style dish in their repertoire too, both as sweet and savory versions, but mostly they are variations on the above dish.

What are Hot Cross Buns?

Here in Australia Hot Cross Buns are an absolute Easter staple. These little spicy fruit buns are so popular they are sold in supermarkets all year round.

I’ve heard that they aren’t nearly as readily available in the United States though. You can always try baking them yourself (I recommend this recipe or try our own version done in the grill), but if not just use regular white bread or croissants. The exact type of bread you use isn’t very important.

smoked bread pudding ingredients
For this recipe we use Easter classic hot cross buns paired with traditional flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla

Why smoked bread pudding?

If you’ve never tried it, smoking desserts sounds like a crazy idea. It turns out that the smokiness of cooking over charcoal and wood can give your desserts a beautiful depth of flavor.

Plus its fun, and convenient to cook outside, especially if you already have charcoal in the grill from cooking your dinner.

Preparing your custard

Although this recipe uses the same essential ingredients as a traditional style custard, we won’t be pre-cooking it, or turning it into custard yet, as we’ll be essentially cooking it later as part of the bread pudding. 

mixing cooking cream with eggs in s bowl
Start by preparing the custard mixture

In a medium bowl, mix together 4 whole eggs and the yolk of one more, and add 2 ½ cups of pouring or cooking cream to the bowl. Add to this 2 tsp vanilla extract (I use paste with seeds for a richer flavor), a pinch of salt, and a tsp each of cinnamon powder and ground nutmeg.

cream, eggs and spices mixture for the smoked bread pudding
For more sweetness you can add some brown sugar to the custard mixture

In addition, you could add 1 tbsp of brown sugar or caster sugar too, for a slightly sweeter dish. The hot cross buns already have some cinnamon and other traditional spices, so you don’t need to be too heavy with those spices here. 

Light your BBQ

Using your preferred method (I use a chimney starter with a full chimney of charcoal), light your smoker and you’ll want to aim for 375°F for this cook. 

If it overshoots slightly, that’s not a problem, but try not to get it above 390°F or you’ll overcook the outside leaving the inside raw and undercooked and soggy. 

pecan wood chunks burning on top of charcoal
Pecan, cherry or apple wood chunks work great for this dish

Whilst this is fine for 8-year-old boys and middle-aged dads who “cook” to spend time with their sons (Thanks dad!), your guests or family may not be as enthusiastic about it.

I use Pecan chunks for this particular dish, although cherry or apple will work equally as well. Let us know what you use in the comments!

Assemble your pudding

Whilst your BBQ is coming up to temp, it’s time to assemble your Bread Pudding. Take your hot cross buns and tear them into approx 1.5-2” chunks. You don’t need to worry about being exact, the charm of this dish comes from its rustic, simple background. 

torn hot cross buns in a glass dish
If you don’t have any hot cross buns, just use regular white bread, croissants or even donuts

Put them into your 9”x9” baking dish, packing them together like a bready (or hot cross bun-ny) Tetris game. 

Liberally layer your hot cross bun base with white choc chips and cranberries – I use approximately half a cup of each, but I’m not the fun police, go wild if you want more! Once you’ve done that, pour over your custard mixture, making sure to cover all the area. 

pouring cream, eggs and spices mixture on top of hot cross buns for the bread pudding
Add some white choc chips and cranberries to the buns and pour over the custard mixture

Don’t worry if it looks a little bit soupy at this point (although that should be a potato and leek style consistency, not a broth!!), it will set during cooking.

Cooking your pudding

Once your BBQ is up to temp, add a couple of chunks of your smoking wood, and put your baking dish into the BBQ and close the lid.

smoked bread pudding in a smoker
Let the bread pudding smoke for about 45 minutes or until 165°F internal temperature in the center

Leave to bake for around 45 mins, or until the center reads around 165°F. It should still have a bit of a jiggle to it like jello (almost like a souffle consistency), but that will set a little more as it continues to cook and then cools after you’ve taken it out of the smoker.

smoked bread pudding in a glass dish
Cool the smoked bread pudding for 10 minutes, serve and enjoy

After about 10 mins of cooling, you can serve this up with whipped cream or ice cream and a dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon if you like.

Serve with a Baileys Irish Cream for extra creamy alcoholic richness….Cheers, mate!

smoked bread pudding

Smoked Bread Pudding

Vanilla cinnamon bread pudding cooked over charcoal and wood – a smoky version of a traditional British dessert.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 792kcal
Author: Mat Cotton

Ingredients

  • 4 hot cross buns
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 ½ cups pouring cream
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • ½ cup cranberries dried
  • ½ cup white choc chips

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl mix the together the eggs, egg yolk , cream, spices, vanilla, salt, and brown sugar.
  • Light your BBQ and bring to 375°F.
  • Grease a 9”x9” baking dish. Tear your hot cross buns into 1.5-2" chunks and line the baking dish with them.
  • Sprinkle over the cranberries and white chocolate chips.
  • Pour over the custard base.
  • Add some pecan smoking chunks to your coals.
  • Cook your Bread Pudding for 45 mins or until an internal temp of 165°F in centre.
  • Cool for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with whipped cream or ice cream and a dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Nutrition

Calories: 792kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 61g | Saturated Fat: 36g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 393mg | Sodium: 221mg | Potassium: 292mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 1824IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 188mg | Iron: 1mg

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