Bread Pudding on a Cold Snowy Day

Bread pudding has been around for ages and versions of it can be found in many countries’ cuisines. Basically, its a pudding that uses leftover stale bread, eggs, milk and or cream, sugar, raisins and spices. Things that most women had around the house and so could easily whip together at a moment’s notice.

Since I’ve been baking up a storm in my “new-to-me” bread machine, I quite often have leftover bread that is starting to get stale. I’ve been bagging the bread and popping it in the freezer to reuse in recipes like this.

Last week, I attempted to make a bread pudding following a recipe from Grandma’s Cooking by Allan Keller (1955). It was pretty bad. The problem appears to be that I overdid it on the bread. A quick look at the pudding before it went in the oven, might give you an idea what happened. The recipe had called for four slices of buttered bread cut up. Since I was cutting homemade bread, I think I made my slices too big!

The resulting pudding was dry and funky tasting even after I glopped a sauce on it. Into the trash it went. Sigh.

Bread pudding would have been known by the English settlers to America. Later printed recipes became common in English and American cookbooks from the 18th century on.

The cookbook author Hannah Glass printed this recipe in her The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy from 1747

A bread pudding
Cut off all the crust of a Penny white loaf and slice it thin into a quart of new milk, set it over a chafingdish of coals, till the bread has soaked up all the milk, then put in a piece of sweet butter, stir it round, let it stand till cold, or you may boil your milk, and pour over your bread, and cover it up close, does full as well; then take the Yolks of six eggs, the whites of three, and beat them up, with a little rosewater, and nutmeg, a little salt, and sugar, and if you choose it, mix all well together, and boil it half an hour.”

Today I decided to try again but this time I found a recipe with more exact measurements. I used the 1943 version of Joy of Cooking. Still had a few issues with the recipe, but after some changes in timing the result is just what I was looking for – a creamy bread pudding that hits the spot on this snowy day.

Bread Pudding

  • 4 c. stale bread, crusts cut off and bread cut into cubes
  • 3 c. warm milk (I didn’t have enough milk, so used a mixture of cream and milk)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. raisins

Preheat oven to 350

Cut the crusts off bread and chop into cubes

Warm the milk but don’t boil

Put bread cubes into warm milk letting them soak for 15 minutes

Add the salt to this mixture

Then in a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg

Add the raisins to the egg dish

Pour the egg mixture over the soaked bread and stir lightly until well blended

Whip the egg whites until stiff and then gently fold them into the egg/bread mixture

Pour all this into a casserole dish   

Place this dish into a larger pan

Fill the outer pan with hot water to about half way up the side of the pudding dish

Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until egg mixture is sufficiently cooked (This too much longer for me. I think my water might not have been hot enough around the pan? Or maybe it just needs more time. I ended up taking the casserole out of the water pan and baking it for about 20 more minutes)

Ah, that's better!

 

Christmas Baking

Friends often give me their parents’ cookbooks, knowing that I will love any cookbooks that pre-date the 1960s. I recently was given a gold mine of early cookbooks by my friend Anne whose mother passed away last year.  My heart was racing as I loaded up the car knowing I’d have many hours of fun reading these gems.

But the most intriguing to me was a newsletter called Cook and Tell mainly from the 1980s-1990s and a bit into the early part of this century. The newsletter was the brain child of Karyl Bannister whose address on Love Cove, Southport, Maine gives you an idea of the hominess of the newsletter.

Karyl wrote her newsletter long before the rage for food blogging. She writes about her newsletter that it “is dedicated to fun in the kitchen. I think food should be reasonably wholesome and taste good.” And indeed all the recipes are super simple and those I’ve tried so far are excellent, though many are too heavy with sour cream and cream cheese as was popular during this time period.

Karyl’s other main attribute is that she’s an excellent writer. Her monthly letters immediately pull you into her quiet life filled with cooking on the coast of Maine. After reading many of the newsletters, I feel as if I know Karyl and her family.

Here are three Christmas desserts all of which came out splendidly.

Apple Cranberry Crisp

  • 4 medium-sized apples, peeled, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. rolled oats
  • 3/4 c. chopped walnuts

Toss apples and cranberries with sugar, flour and cinnamon in a 2-quart baking dish

Make the topping by combining flour and sugar

Cut in the butter

Stir in oats and nuts

Strew this topping mixture over the apple mixture

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour in a 350 degree oven (the dish should be bubbly and golden brown)

She suggested serving with vanilla ice cream or cream

This receipe is from the Oct. 1998 issue.

Eggnog Muffins

  • 3 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 c. eggnog
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1 c. candied fruit (I used dried cranberries)

Spray a standard muffin pan with cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg

Combine the eggnog, egg and cooled melted butter

Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry mixture and blend

Fold in the fruits

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full

Bake for 25 minutes

Very yummy and a great way to use left over eggnog! From the December 2003 issue.

Cranberry Bars

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 apple with peel on, chopped fine
  • 1 c. cranberries, chopped fine
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/4 c. of the flour and 1/2 c. of the sugar and the butter

Blend with a fork or pastry blender to fine crumbs and set aside

In another bowl, mix the fruits, eggs, vanilla and lemon juice

In a cup, mix the remaining 1/4 c. flour, the remaining 1 c. sugar, and the cinnamon and add to the fruit mixture, mixing to blend

Press half the crumb mixture firmly in a 9 x 13 pan

Spread the fruit mixture over it, leaving 1/2″ margin all around              

Sprinkle remaining crumbs lightly over the fruit and a little more around the edges

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or till golden brown

Cool before cutting into squares or bars

 

I took these bars to a party and they were a huge success! The recipe is from the June 1996 newsletter.

Oh, and in case you haven’t noticed, I love cranberries!

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