In the United States and certain regions of Canada, pudding is a milk-based dessert similar to egg-based custards, instant custards, or a mousse. It typically takes the form of a silky, sweet confection, often prepared from a packaged mix. However, in various other countries, it may manifest in diverse variations, including savory renditions.

The contemporary American interpretation of “pudding” as a dessert has transitioned from its initial predominantly savory connotation. Originally, the word came from the French for boudin meaning “small sausage.” This method involves enclosing a mixture of meat and other ingredients, primarily in liquid form and subsequently steaming or boiling it to solidify the contents. Another proposed etymology is from the West German ‘pud’ meaning ‘to swell’.

In the United Kingdom, Ireland, and certain Commonwealth countries, the term “pudding” encompasses not only sweet treats but also savory dishes. Among the savory options are notable examples such as Yorkshire pudding, black pudding, suet pudding, and steak and kidney pudding. However, unless specified, “pudding” typically refers to a dessert, and in the United Kingdom, “pudding” or colloquially ‘pud’ serves as a synonym for dessert. Dessert puddings come in various forms, including boiled and steamed puddings, baked puddings, bread puddings, batter puddings, milk puddings, and even jellies.

In certain Commonwealth nations, these dessert variations are referred to as “custards” (or curds) when thickened with eggs, labeled as “blancmange” when starch is the thickening agent, and termed “jelly” when gelatin serves as the base. Additionally, the term “pudding” can extend to other dishes like bread pudding and rice pudding, although these names often trace their origins back to their British culinary roots.

This pudding recipe from Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, who was on the 1995 (Bronze Medal) and 1997 (Silver Medal), is one of those recipes that diverges from the conventional notion of pudding.

This recipe for Cherry Bread Pudding comes from Chef Pfeiffer’s cookbook, “The Art of French Pastry.”

Bettelman means “beggar” in the Alsatian dialect, and this delightful dessert is a type of poor man’s bread pudding made by reviving old brioche,” says Chef Pfeiffer. “It comes straight from the times when nothing was thrown away, and was a way to make a dessert with the ingredients at hand.”

cherry bread pudding

Cherry Bread Pudding (Bettelman aux Cerises)

Yield: One 9-inch bread pudding

IngredientsImperial MeasurementMetric Measurement
Old brioche or kougelhof3.5 ounces100 g
Whole Milk3/4 cup180 g
Vanilla extract (We use Nielsen-Massey)1 tea5 g
Butter (If possible with a high fat content – 82%) for the panAs neededAs needed
Egg yolks2 ea30 g
Kirschwasser1/2 tea2 g
Ground cinnamon1/4 tea0.5 g
Granulated sugar1 Tbsp15 g
Almond flour, skinless1/2 c50 g
Egg whites2 ea75 g
Sea saltPinch0.2 g
Granulated sugar1/4 c50 g
Black cherries, pitted8 4/5 oz (unpitted)/
7 oz (pitted)
250 g (unpitted)/
200 g (pitted)
Sliced almonds (or a nut of your choice e.g. pecans or hazelnuts)1/4 c plus 2 tea30 g
Confectioners’ sugar for dustingAs neededAs needed


Using a serrated knife, cut the brioche or kougelhof into 3/4-cubes on a cutting board. If you are using a brioche that is glazed with egg wash, cut off the glazed part, as it does not soften easily (weigh out the 100 grams of bread after cutting off the glazed part.) Note: the better the bread, the better the bread pudding.

Combine the milk and vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup and warm up very slightly, for 20 seconds, in the microwave. Place the bread cubes in a medium mixing bowl and pour on the warmed milk and vanilla. Stir the mixture, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours. In an ideal world, you would let this mixture soak overnight to increase the flavors.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius. Brush a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, baking dish, or 9-inch ceramic baking dish with soft butter. Beat the soaked bread mixture with a hand whisk until it becomes mushy. Even if the bread has soaked up all of the liquid you can break it down to a mush with a whisk. Add the yolks, Kirsh, cinnamon, 15 grams of sugar, and almond flour.

Place the egg whites and sea salt in the bowl of your standing mixture fitted with the whisk attachment and whip for 10 seconds on low speed. Add the 50 grams of sugar and whip on hight until the form a soft meringue, about 1 minute.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the bread mixture. Transfer the mixture to the cast-iron skillet, baking dish or pan. Arrange the cherries evenly in the pan, pushing them down into the mixture. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius for 40 minutes, until it is puffed and the edges are golden brown; dust with confectioners’ sugar again and serve hot, with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

The edges of the bread mixture and the sliced almonds should be golden brown and the cerries should have released their juices.

The cherry bread pudding is best eaten fresh from the oven, however, you can keep it in a refrigerator for 2 days. In that case, warm it up for 15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200 degrees Celsius before serving.

This dish can also be made in individual dishes. All the instructions remain the same, however, the baking time will be around 25 to 30 minutes.