How to Make Bread Pudding on the Grill

Gale Gand, pastry chef and co-owner of Tru Restaurant in Chicago, demonstrates how to make her irresistible buttermilk bread pudding right on the grill. She also shares her rhubarb-pear compote recipe and simple strawberry sauce -- two delicious complements to this grilled dessert.

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    Grilled Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Rhubarb-Pear Compote

    In May, thousands of grilling enthusiasts gathered in Chicago's Lincoln Park for two days of grilling demonstrations, tastings, and more at the first-ever Better Homes and Gardens and Weber Chill and Grill Festival.

    Pastry chef and avid griller Gale Gand dazzled the crowd when she demonstrated how to make bread pudding -- on the grill! Click to the following slides to learn how to make this showstopping dessert at home.

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    Step 1: Slice and core pears

    Slice each pear in half, and use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds. Then cut a tiny "V" at the bottom of the pear to remove the blossom and pull out the fibrous string. Use medium-ripe Bosc pears -- their crisp-tender texture and honeylike sweetness pairs well with tart rhubarb.

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    Step 2: Wash and chop rhubarb

    To prepare the rhubarb, wash the stalks and remove the leaves, which are inedible. Then use a sharp knife to halve and dice the stalks into 1-inch sections. Use four stalks of rhubarb or one 8- to 10-ounce bag of frozen rhubarb.

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    Step 3: Flavor fruit with vanilla bean

    Once you've combined your pears and rhubarb, slice a vanilla pod down the middle to expose the seeds. Scrape the seeds into the fruit mixture. Using vanilla pods is more expensive than vanilla extract, but the flavor is superior.

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    Step 4: Add more flavorings

    In a large bowl stir together 1/2 cup orange juice, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons light-bodied red wine, and 1/2 cup light brown sugar. Add mixture to the vanilla-flavored fruit.

    At her demonstration, Gale asked younger children to add in premeasured ingredients; take her lead to get your kids interested in cooking.

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    Step 5: Cook the compote

    Bake the fruit mixture in a 400 degrees F oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Once the fruit is finished, it will be tender and sweet with a hint of spice that pairs beautifully with the grilled bread pudding.

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    Step 6: Make strawberry topping

    Strawberries in syrup are another perfect complement to this dessert, Gale says. Start by chopping the berries into larger chunks.

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    Step 7: Add the sugar

    The natural juices of the strawberries create a rich syrup when combined with sugar.

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    Step 8: Start making the bread pudding

    Whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Gradually whisk in buttermilk and cream. Pour the custard base into a sheet pan or shallow baking dish to allow the slices of bread to soak evenly.

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    Step 9: Soak the bread

    Work in batches, if necessary, when soaking the bread. Gale recommends using a soft white bread, such as a French baguette (pictured here), challah, or brioche.

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    Step 10: Turn the bread

    Soak the bread in the custard base for 1 to 2 minutes per side.

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    Step 11: Grill the soaked bread

    Use tongs to oil your well-cleaned grill with a paper towel dipped in cooking oil. Lay the soaked bread slices on the cooler section of the grill. Grill about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and repeat on the other side.

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    Step 12: Serve right off the grill

    To serve, top the warm grilled pudding with spoonfuls of compote and strawberries. Add a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and serve immediately.

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