Did you make a giant loaf of Easter bread last week AND a full-size batch of hot cross buns? Do you now have more raisin-studded bread than you know what to do with, filling your kitchen and threatening to overpower you and your family if you eat anything that isn't a sandwich?
I have a solution for you!
Bread pudding gets such a bum wrap. If you can find it on the menu at a restaurant, it's inevitably pitted against such hard-to-resist sweets as flourless chocolate tortes, vanilla crème brulée, lemon panna cotta, or raspberry sorbet-- all lovely in their own right, and far more exciting then bread pudding sounds. But really, what could be better on a rainy spring night than a steamy teacup full of warm spiced bread pudding, straight from the oven? Spiced with cinnamon and raisins with a creamy, custard-like texture, this is the perfect comfort food, and a total upcycle at that.
There are a lot of recipes like this in the box: dishes that feature ingredients you'd have to throw away otherwise. These are the recipes that Eleanor saved and used over and over because they helped prevent unnecessary waste (including a recipe for mock apple pie that contains... you guessed it! No apples). Since the box was started during WWII when even the most basic foods were being rationed, I guess she became good at stretching her dollars-- and her pantry. Written in what I assume is Eleanor's own hand, the original recipe card for this includes the notation “(good)” at the top, underlined twice-- so you know it was a winner for her, too.
So don't throw away your next loaf of stale bread; get creative and make yourself a bread pudding. It's the perfect dessert for this time of year when the weather vacillates between warm and freezing (cold out? Serve this hot! Warm outside? Serve it chilled!), and it's versatile enough to be appropriate for breakfast or dessert (scoop a dollop of yoghurt on it for breakfast, or serve it with cream as a dessert!) Seriously, what are you waiting for?
This is the perfect recipe on which to use up the remnants of a sweet bread you have laying around (Hawaiian bread would be an absolute dream here!), but the original actually calls for plain sandwich bread, so that would work fine, too. I've included two different amounts of sugar below, depending on how sweet your bread is to start with.
4 spoons out of five. I'd give it five, but by the time I made this, I was so tired of bread that it was hard to muster up as much enthusiasm as this deserved.
Old Fashioned Bread Pudding
6 slices stale bread (white or your choice of sweet breads)
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp cinnamon
Scant ½ c sugar (if using plain bread, add an additional 2 tbsp sugar)
½ c raisins (optional, but recommended as they definitely improve the texture and flavour)
2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 176C/350F.
Grease an 8x8 (or 1 ½ quart) baking dish and set aside.
Cut crusts from bread and brush remaining bread with melted butter.
Sprinkle with cinnamon (and 2 tbsp sugar if you're using plain bread).
Cut bread into quarters (mine were more like cubes because my slices were thicker).
Arrange in layers in prepared dish, sprinkling each layer with raisins as you go.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs just until combined.
Add scant ½ c sugar, milk, and vanilla to eggs and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Pour egg mixture over bread.
Set dish in pan of 1 inch hot water and place in oven.
Bake 55-60 minutes until “silver knife inserted ½ inch into pudding comes out clean.”
This post also listed over at #InspireMe Wednesdays!