Inside Columbia


Lemon Chess Bread Pudding Signals Change

By Inside Columbia
Lemon chess bread pudding

Photos by L.G. Patterson

I’m going to admit something to you.

I’m not a huge fan of change. I buy the same kind of shoes all the time, and I’m known to be very brand loyal in a grocery store. My ice cream order is pretty much set in stone. An oaky chardonnay and I’m always happy. I find comfort in my routine.

Sara Fougere and her lemon chess bread pudding

And yet, this fall, our baby will go off to college and we will be empty nesters — a huge change. Like many of you, caring for my growing older mother has begun to take significant time and our relationship also is evolving. Such a poignant change. So earlier this year, when I found myself contemplating a work kitchen move, I just wasn’t sure I could do it.

After 17 years, it might be too much change.

But I’m a little surprised to say I’m embracing this change — a new kitchen, in the vibrant North Village Arts District; a new outlook on how to provide the fresh, flavorful food I love to bring to parties; and an opportunity to share some recipes I’ve always loved, but for some reason didn’t put in our offerings. This lemon chess bread pudding is going to join our signature dessert list and I just know you’re going to love it. It is bright, luscious and comfortable. You can add fruit if you’d like and, although it really is best with freshly squeezed lemon juice, use bottled if that’s what you have. It’s definitely a change from what you expect from a bread pudding.

But it turns out sometimes change is good.

I’m going to buy some new shoes, too.

Lemon Chess Bread Pudding


  • 4 cups cubed breadcrumbs (TIP: I freeze leftover bread and rolls for this purpose. A hearty artisan roll makes a courser pudding. A less dense roll or bread makes a more tender pudding.)
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¾ cup lemon juice, about 3 large lemons
  • Zest from the lemons (TIP: Zest them before you cut and squeeze)
  • 6 tbsp melted butter
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ²⁄₃ cups sugar
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork or whisk

Lemon Chess Syrup

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 ½  sticks of butter
  • 6 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 6 tbsp tbsp lemon juice
  • Zest from the additional lemon


  • Whisk the lemon juice, zest and cornstarch in a large bowl. Mix in the melted butter, salt and sugar.  Whisk the eggs into the mixture.
  • Add the bread cubes and mix to allow the bread to soak up the mixture.  
  • Place in a greased 9×9-inch baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, until center is set and firm. 
  • While the bread pudding bakes, make the syrup:
  • Mix sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.
  • Add remaining ingredients and stir constantly over medium high heat until mixture melts and boils.  Keep stirring while the mixture boils and sauce thickens. 
  • Let sauce cool (it will continue to thicken while cooling) then drizzle over finished bread pudding.

Subscribe & Follow