Strata Vs. Bread Pudding: What's The Difference?

Whether you enjoy toasted bread with jam in the mornings or order crunchy pizza in the afternoon, breads in all shapes and sizes are a huge part of Western eating habits. The macronutrient in bread, carbohydrates, is a key source of fuel for our bodies, according to the Mayo Clinic. Bread can provide the energy we need to get through our days.

Due to the convenience, nutrition, and versatility of different bread types, carb-packed comfort items like flatbreads and sourdoughs have long served as delicious sources of energy (via Medical News Today). As long as there are cereal crops around, humans have figured out ways to make bread dough and bake hearty loaves to eat and share. 

Both strata and bread pudding require bread to make a satisfying dish. If you have a not-quite-fresh loaf sitting on your kitchen counter, consider either of these delicious recipes as a tasty start or end to your day.  

The beauty of bread pudding

Bread pudding is a custard-like bake made from stale bread soaked in a mix of milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. The mixture is baked until the liquid ingredients are set and turn golden brown. Depending on where you're from or what recipe you use (like this Irish bread and butter pudding recipe), other ingredients such as walnuts, spices, and raisins can be added.

O&H Danish Bakery cites bread pudding's origins as English, appearing sometime in the 12th century, but the dish was not as delicious as it is today. It was considered "poor man's pudding" until milk and eggs were added into 13th-century recipes; the baked treat was then cleverly renamed "bread and butter pudding." 

Since stale bread is traditionally the base of this recipe, experimenting with different kinds of bread can lend unique textures and flavors to the dish. Many bakers like to use brioche because it is sweet and soft — characteristics that can help create a delicious morning treat or afternoon snack (via St. Pierre Bakery).

What is strata?

Strata is much younger than bread pudding, the first record of it appearing in a cookbook in 1902, according to The Twine. Strata is a breakfast casserole made with eggs and bread. Sound familiar? Strata is made in almost the exact same way — with almost the exact same ingredients — as bread pudding, but instead of a sweet taste, this bake leans on the savory side (via The Pioneer Woman). Recipes like ham and cheese strata often call for eggs, milk, bread, assorted meats, veggies, and cheese. 

Strata is easy to make. Throw the ingredients into a bowl, soak overnight (par-cook bacon and denser veggies), and when breakfast needs to be served, pour the ingredients into a pan to bake. Ultimately, the difference between strata and bread pudding is the taste. If you crave sweeter flavors, bread pudding can be dessert-like; savory strata, however, can keep those lacking sweet teeth satisfied.