Bread pudding was a dessert my mom always made on the farm. On the practical side, it was inexpensive to make for a large family, it used up stale bread, and it was easy to make. from ingredients always on hand.
On the down side, as much as I loved it,, it was commercial white bread, sugar and milk. Period.
Today’s a cold and dreary February day, so I decided bread pudding would be just the thing – a comforting dish from my childhood. But I wanted to dress it up a bit. I had a half loaf of spelt bread I baked earlier in the week, and since I prefer to eat whole grain bread, I said, why not? Maybe this bread pudding could even be considered good for you: whole grain, milk, protein from eggs, cinnamon as an anti-inflammatory…it’s a stretch but I could convince myself!
My raisins were getting a bit hard, so soaking them was the answer – vanilla rum on hand? YES! You can use plain water, or whisky or any other alcohol should you desire it. Feel free to pour it all in! A bit of jam and butter add some flavor and texture to the bread pudding as well.
Since I am low on milk today, I used a combination of milk and canned evaporated milk. From experience, I would have used some cream (if I had it on hand!) to make it even more decadent.
Today, once I poured the mixed bread and custard into my dish, it looked there was not enough milk – so I added some evaporates canned milk on top, and briefly patted down the bread to mix it in. The amount of milk will depend on how much bread and what kind you use. The custard should just about cover the bread once it’s in the baking dish, otherwise the top will bake quite crispy.
As a child, my mom would sprinkle with white sugar and cinnamon. Today, I forgo the sugar, but a sprinkle of more cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg on top just prior to baking. Then a little more with when serving.
If it looks too brown while baking, but the custard isn’t yet set (in order words, the milk is still runny in the center) cover it with a piece of foil, and continue baking until “just set”. Custards bake from the outside to the inside, so if you shake the dish a bit and the whole thing jiggles, it’s set. If only the outer dish edges jiggle and the inside is runny, it’s not done yet.
As a child, my mom would sprinkle with white sugar and cinnamon and some more milk or cream (or whipped cream on special occasions). Today, I forgo the sugar, but a sprinkle of more cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg is good. If you like, a caramel or buttered rum sauce could be made and drizzled over top.
For me, that’s a bit too upscale – I want the thing my mother made. That’s still the way I prefer to eat it today.
Do you have a favorite dessert or dish your remember from childhood? Something that takes you back to your childhood home whenever you eat it?
Decadent Farmhouse Bread Pudding
- 10 cups cubed bread toasted
- 4 eggs
- ½ cup sugar white, cane or brown
- 4 tsbp butter melted and cooled slightly
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3-3 1/2 cups milk or a mix of milk and cream or milk and evaporated milk
- 1/3 cup Jam or jelly of your choice
- ½ cup raisons soaked in rum if desired
Spread whole pieces of cooled toast with jam of your choice (I like strawberry or fig), and cube into 1” pieces. Place toasted cubes of bread in a large bowl.
In a second bowl, add the eggs and whisk well (or use a hand mixer). Add in the sugar, salt, spices and vanilla, then the cooled butter. Whisk until sugar dissolves.
Add the raisons to the bread bowl, then pour over the egg mix. Stir carefully to moisten all the bread. Let sit 15 minutes so the bread can soak up the liquids. If your bread floats on top, weight it with a small plate and a heavy can to submerge the bread.
Pour into a large buttered or greased casserole dish. If desired, sprinkle with more cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg. Set the dish in a roasting pan and fill the pan with 1.5” of hot water (AKA a water bath or Bain Marie).
Bake 350F for about an hour until the custard sets, and the top is just starting to brown.
Serve warm, with additional cream, whipped cream, and/or cinnamon on top.