Wisconsin Style Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce featuring @MainGrainBakery Rustic White

Challenge?  Did someone say challenge?  You know that I’m all over that……

So, when a local bakery, The Main Grain, announced their Cookbook Challenge, I knew that I had to jump right in!  Here is the description from their Facebook post:

Sometimes we wonder what happens to our bread after it leaves these doors, and now we are on a mission to find out….but we are going to need your help. We are pleased to announce that starting in December we will be putting together a cookbook of sorts in a facebook photo album. It will contain pictures of dishes that use our bread. We are asking YOU, yes you, to help by sending in photos of your delicious homemade meals that incorporate our bread. The photos will then be added to our “cook book” photo album on our facebook page as we get them. Then at the end of the month Kyle, Nick and Sarah will vote on their favorite dish and that dish will receive a prize because we love prizes. Prizes will be announced at the beginning of each month. Send your photo along with a short description to our email address. We are hoping this will educate us on how our bread is being used so we can in turn better our product as well as give some cooking ideas to all our wonderful customers. Remember sharing is caring especially when it comes to food.

There are so many reasons why I absolutely love The Main Grain.  First, they source many of their ingredients locally.  Local is so much better for our environment, our economy, and it just tastes good!  Second, the way they produce their product is done in a sustainable way– they don’t overproduce their product (which would result in a ton of waste), their packaging and cleaning supplies are “green”, and they compost and/or recycle what they can.  Finally, when they do over-produce product, they will donate goods to organizations that have a need.

All of these things mean that it’s a business I feel GREAT about supporting!  For those that are local to Central Wisconsin, you definitely should check them out.  If you’re on Facebook, you should “Like” their page, too.  They’re pretty savvy at the social media thing– it’s very entertaining to get updates from them!

Now– on to the Wisconsin Style Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce.  

The key to this recipe is the high quality bread.  Make no doubt about it that the Rustic Style White I bought from The Main Grain in Stevens Point, Wisconsin was what gave this recipe its kick.  You could really tell that this was a bread made from natural fermentation rather than industrial yeast found in most breads.  The rye flavor, which I was concerned about at first, truly did enhance the tartness of the Wisconsin grown dried cranberries.  It was truly delectable!

A loaf of Rustic Style White from The Main Grain in Stevens Point, Wisconsin


  • 1/4 dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp bourbon plus 1/4 bourbon
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 sugar plus 1/2 sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • approx 3/4 loaf of “rustic style” bread, cubed
  • 1/4 corn syrup, light
  • 1/4 butter


In a small bowl, combine the dried cranberries and 2 tablespoons bourbon.  Allow to stand for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, using a slotted spoon, remove the cranberries and set aside.  Reserve the liquid.

In a large bowl, whisk together the reserved liquid, milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and beaten egg until well combined. Add the cubed bread to the liquid.  Using a large spoon, toss the bread in the liquid until the bread is evenly coated.  Spoon the mixture into an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray. Evenly sprinkle the bourbon soaked cranberries on top of the bread.  Cover the dish with foil and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours to allow the liquid to be fully absorbed into the bread.

After the bread has chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Take a 13×9 inch (or larger) baking pan and fill with hot water to a depth of approximately 3/4 inch.  Place the 8 or 9 inch dish that contains the bread pudding into the larger pan filled with water so that it is sitting in a “water bath”.  Bake the entire thing, with the bread pudding covered, for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove the foil cover and bake an additional 10 minutes.  

During the last 10 minutes of the bread pudding’s baking time, prepare the bourbon sauce.  In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 sugar, corn syrup, and butter over medium heat.  Bring the ingredients to a simmer, stirring frequently.  Once the ingredients have been simmering for a minute or two, remove the pan from heat and immediately (and carefully) pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of bourbon.  

Serve immediately by spooning a tablespoon (or three!) of the sauce on top of each slice of warm bread pudding.  

Left, Wisconsin cranberries soaking in the bourbon. Center, tossing bread cubes in the liquid. Right, sprinkling the cranberries on top.

What I really liked about this recipe is that it wasn’t as “moist” as most other bread puddings I’ve made– I increased the amount of bread so that it was less about the liquid and more about the complex flavors of the bread playing on the palate.  This is now going to be my new “go-to” bread pudding recipe.  New Orleans move over! Wisconsin Bread Pudding may just start to catch on!

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