In theory and in practice, bread pudding is what you do with leftover bread—it’s poor folks’ food. But not this bread pudding. The dauntingly rich and absolutely delicious dessert is the specialty of pastry chef Melissa Bailey, who with her husband, executive chef Benjamin Bailey, heads up the kitchen at Houston’s arty new Redwood Grill (4611 Montrose). The recipe starts with butter-and-cinnamon-brushed croissants baked in a sybaritic vanilla custard and it finishes with a head drizzle of bourbon sauce. Even foes of bread pudding like this version. “My dad never eats sweets,” says Bailey, “but when I fix this, he always has a big slice.”


2 cups plus 4 tablespoons heavy cream
2 cups plus 4 tablespoons whole milk
15 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

Place ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Strain and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cinnamon Sugar

2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a small bowl.


10 large ready-made croissants
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Using some of the melted butter, brush sides and bottom of a 12- by 8- by 2-inch nonreactive baking pan. Set aside. Split croissants open and generously brush cut sides with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (recipe above). Then place on a cookie sheet, cut sides up, and bake 5 to 7 minutes, until golden brown. Removed from oven and cool for at least 5 minutes. Place croissants in baking pan, cut sides up, in 3 layers. Pour custard over them. Cover pan with foil and allow to rest, refrigerated, overnight. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place pan in a water bath and bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until custard is firm.

Bourbon Sauce

1 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup bourbon
2 eggs
powdered sugar
fresh berries for garnish (optional)

Melt butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool until warm to touch. Meanwhile, whisk together cream, bourbon, and eggs and add to butter and sugar, mixing thoroughly.

To serve, cut pudding into squares and serve warm, with several spoonfuls of bourbon sauce and a dustin of powdered sugar on each piece. Garnish with berries. (To reheat, microwave individual servings on high 30 to 45 seconds or cover pan with foil and heat for 20 minutes at 300 degrees in a conventional oven.) Serves 8 to 10.