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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Tres leches bread pudding

By Samantha Seneviratne

Inspired by pastel de tres leches, this recipe applies the three milks traditionally used in the Latin American dessert — condensed, evaporated and whole — to bread pudding. But the game-changer comes with the water bath, which helps develop a fluffy, almost ethereal bottom as the top crisps under the oven’s heat. Finish it with a little more condensed milk for a dish that melds the extra sweet with a more savory, eggy brioche.

Tres leches bread pudding

Pastel de tres leches, a traditional Latin American dessert, consists of a basic sponge cake doused in three types of milk: condensed, evaporated and whole milk or cream. Inspired by the classic cake, this bread pudding transforms those three milks into a rich custard that gets absorbed by buttery cubes of brioche. As it bakes in a water bath, it becomes golden and toasty on the top and soft and pillowy on the bottom. Serve it at any temperature with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of condensed milk. If you have any leftovers, eat them for breakfast topped with a little Greek yogurt and some fresh fruit.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Total time: 1 1/4 hours, plus 20 minutes’ cooling


Butter, for greasing the baking dish

3 large eggs

4 large egg yolks

2 cups/480 milliliters heavy cream

1 cup/240 milliliters condensed milk

1 cup/240 milliliters whole milk

1 (12-ounce/360-milliliters) can evaporated milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

12 ounces/340 grams brioche, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 8 cups)


1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish.

2. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and egg yolks until completely combined. Whisk in 1 cup/240 milliliters heavy cream, 3/4 cup/180 milliliters condensed milk, the whole milk, evaporated milk, vanilla and salt.

3. Set the bread in the prepared dish and pour the egg mixture on top. Press the bread down gently with a spatula to make sure all the pieces are immersed and soak up the liquid. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring a kettle of water to a boil. Drizzle 2 tablespoons condensed milk over the pudding. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil then set it inside a large roasting pan. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the baking dish.

5. Bake until the center of the custard is almost set but still slightly wet, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue to bake until the custard is set in the center and the top is golden, about 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and let the pudding cool in the water for about 20 minutes.

6. Whip the remaining 1 cup/240 milliliters heavy cream to soft peaks. Serve the pudding warm, room temperature or cold with a dollop of whipped cream. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons condensed milk.

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