Countlan Issue 03 Creme Caramel LA
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The New Mainstay: Bread Pudding and CRÈME CARAMEL LA

Issue 03

We think bread pudding is here to stay and fortunately have some friends who agree with that claim.

Kristine de la Cruz is the owner of Crème Caramel LA, a Los Angeles based dessert company specializing in custard based desserts.  Kristine shares her thoughts with us on launching her business, how to make good bread pudding and the importance of a good custard recipe as a base.

 INTERVIEW: Kristine de la Cruz, Owner, Creme Caramel LA {Los Angeles}

01 Why did you launch Crème Caramel LA?
I always wanted to own a bakery or a restaurant.  Unofficially, the spark started when my siblings and I would play ‘store and restaurant’ at home.  Officially, it started when I was in college.  During my last two years of school, I worked as counter help for a popular local bakery in a college town.  It was the kind of bakery where customers lined up in the morning before we opened. I found it gratifying to see happy customers enjoying the bakery’s yummy pastries.

After college, I worked in marketing and promotions, but four years ago I decided to stop thinking and wishing and start doing.  I made a promise to myself to work on a business plan or product for at least one hour a day for a whole year.  Eight months later, we were ready to sell our first dessert through Crème Caramel LA.  To be honest, I’m a sucker for affirmations and seeing our customers enjoy our treats or taste test a sample drives me to keep this business moving forward.

02 What is your attraction to bread pudding?
Our mother custard recipe is based on a family recipe of leche flan, a Filipino custard similar to crème caramel.  My aunt and uncle adapted the recipe to be more ‘crème caramel’ in texture, which they have successfully sold through wholesale accounts in San Francisco.  With their consent, I adapted their recipe and began experimenting with different flavor profiles.  Custard is like ice cream in that it’s a great base for other desserts.  Bread pudding was a nice addition since this dessert allowed me to serve warm desserts and experiment with other flavors.

03 How do you develop new flavours of bread pudding?
Ice Cream flavors are influential, however inspiration for new flavours often come from the things I love; like bacon.  We created a Caramelized Bacon Bread Pudding, which continues to be a hit with customers.  Other times, I’ll meet a vendor with a product that I could see working in one of our desserts and brainstorm how to incorporate it.  Occasionally, new flavours come from suggestions.  For example, one of our employees knows that I love Dirty Chai Lattes (a chai latte with an espresso shot) so she suggested a crème caramel flavor with a chai/espresso flavor base.

Countlan Issue 03 Creme Caramel LA

04 Do you have advice for novice bread pudding makers? 
My advice is to start with a good custard recipe that can hold up on its own.  If you can enjoy the custard by itself, then add fresh baked egg bread.  While most bread pudding recipes suggest using day old bread, I find that fresh baked egg bread is the best for our bread pudding.  We use challah and brioche for our desserts.

05 What are Crème Caramel LA’s most popular bread pudding flavours?
We have a rotating menu of flavors each week, sometimes each day.  Our Original Vanilla Bread Pudding is always on the menu and continues to be the most popular.  This past year our customers embraced some of our more exotic flavors like Purple Yam (ube) and Buko Pandan (coconut pandan).

06 Is bread pudding a breakfast item or a dessert?
Would it be cheating to say any time of the day is a good time to eat bread pudding?  French toast is basically bread pudding in sliced form and fried on a griddle.  We also have a savory bread pudding that pairs well with a nice salad for lunch.  That being said, I think ‘Bread Pudding Time’ should be 12am-11:59pm. :)

07 What are some of your more popular bread pudding ingredient combinations?
We have a rotating menu of flavors each week, sometimes flavours change each day.  Our Original Vanilla Bread Pudding is always on the menu and continues to be the most popular.  This past year, we’ve been selling more exotic flavors like Purple Yam (Ube) and Buko Pandan (Coconut Pandan).  We are happy to see our customers embrace these new flavors.

08 When it comes to bread pudding, what question do you get asked most often?
Because of how bread pudding looks, I often get asked whether it is a muffin or a cake? The second most asked question: “Is it made with magic?” :)

Caramelized Bacon Bread Pudding Cathy Chaplin
Photo Credit: John Gill – Bacon Bread Pudding for Creme Caramel LA

One Response to “The New Mainstay: Bread Pudding and CRÈME CARAMEL LA”

  1. Polona says:

    Bread pudding makes me think about my grandma and her sweet smelling kitchen

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