When I was still in grade school I used to get off of the school bus at the junction of two rural roads. In the winter my friend Herby and I would trudge through the snow banks until it was time to part our different ways. There was nothing more inviting than to enter my warm country home and to be greeted with the delicious and inviting smell of my Mom’s bread pudding. Now that is what I call a real comfort food!
Bread pudding has a history reaching back as far as 1796. Frugal housewives used stale bread in order to not waste it. In recent years bread pudding has resurfaced and is found on the dessert menus of many fine restaurants.
When my kids were young I worked fulltime and due to my hectic schedule, baking was not a weekday event. However we always had proper sit down Sunday dinners and on many occasions I made a bread pudding for dessert.
The basic recipe consists of bread, eggs, and milk. There are many versions of the recipe and different ways to switch it up. Here is my basic recipe.
Mom’s Bread Pudding
2 eggs slightly beaten (use a fork or whisk)
2 ¼ cups of milk
1 tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 cups stale bread cut into cubes
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup of raisins
Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Mix it into the bread cubes. Add the brown sugar and raisins. Pour the mixture into either a loaf pan or a round ovenware cake dish. Place the pan into a shallow larger pan. Pour hot water into the larger pan so it is at least an inch deep. Bake the pudding at 350 degrees for 45 minutes (or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean). Serve with some half and half or milk or your favourite sauce. This recipe serves 6.
A good home cook knows that there are many ways to change or alter recipes to one's own taste or when one ingredient isn’t available or there are specific dietary needs. The following are my ‘switch it up’ ideas that will create a totally different bread pudding from my basic recipe.
Use slices of bread buttered and cut crosswise instead of cubed.
Crumble the bread.
Grate it into small crumbs.
Try different types of bread: white, dark, French, Italian, Portuguese, stollen, raisin bread, gluten free and sourdough.
Alternatives to butter
Marmalade, currant jelly or apple butter.
Instead of raisins
Sliced apples, black berries, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, cherries, peaches, rhubarb, currants or cranberries.
Soy, almond, cashew, evaporated, or try coconut.
Caramel, rum, lemon, chocolate.
Pumpkin spice, allspice, mace.
I think that in these times especially, it is important for parents to create some special memories for their kids regarding food. Bread pudding is an inexpensive and delightful winter dessert. Try it and let me know how your recipe turns out!
Bread is like dresses, hats and shoes-in other words, essential!