This is Bess’s mom’s way of not letting day-old bread go to waste. Maine’s blueberry season extends from about mid-July to mid-August, and local pears make their appearance in the farmers’ market in August.

Mrs. Culpepper’s Pear Bread Pudding with Maine Caramel Sauce From Holly Chamberlin
Makes 4 servings
  • ½ loaf day-old country French bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cognac (optional)
  • 2 medium pears, peeled, poached, cooled, cored, chopped
  • Blueberry Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
  • Vanilla ice cream
  1. Cut bread into sticks approximately ¼x¼x1½-inches. If possible, cut so that each piece retains some crust on one end.
  2. Stand bread sticks loosely in 4 buttered ramekins, crust ends up. There may be bread left over.
  3. Beat eggs quickly with a fork and mix with milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, cognac (if using), and pears.
  4. Spoon mixture into ramekins. Let puddings rest for 30–40 minutes.
  5. Bake about 45 minutes in preheated 350° oven in boiling water bath to cover bottom half of ramekins. Tester should come out more or less dry.
  6. Allow to cool 20 minutes.
  7. Run a sharp knife around the edge and then unmold. Serve immediately with Blueberry Caramel Sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry Caramel Sauce
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup blueberries, preferably the smaller wild variety
  • 2 tablespoons cognac (optional)
  1. Simmer sugar and 2 tablespoons water, stirring occasionally, until golden (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add blueberries and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes over medium low heat.
  3. Stir in cognac (if using), then cook for another minute. Allow to cool a few minutes before serving.