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Old Things Made New – Bread Pudding

It’s a new year.  Time for new things.  But sometimes the best “new” things come from “old” things.  That is basically the essence of bread pudding.  You use old bread or cake or baked sweets to make a yummy new dessert.  Making bread pudding is less a recipe than it is a method.  It was developed by creative cooks as a way to use stale bread and baked goods so as not to waste them.

After Christmas I had a table full of yummy partially eaten desserts and sweets.  There were about 8 cinnamon rolls, a third of a pecan pie, about half of a 9 x13 dish of apple crisp and 1/2 a loaf of French bread.  Cinnamon rolls are nothing short of delicious when they are fresh, but a couple of days later, even heated, they just aren’t yummy enough to serve.  Pecan pie holds up better and can be eaten even 3-4 days after it’s baked, assuming you still have any that long after it’s been made.  Apple crisp, though best fresh, can be reheated and still taste very good a couple of days in.  Still, more than 3-4 days after they have first emerged from the oven, none of these truly tasty baked goods is really good enough to eat, UNLESS…. you give them new life as bread pudding!

The basic method for making bread pudding is to tear or cut up into basically same size pieces all the various breads or baked goods you are using.  Then make a mix that will become a custard to hold all the “bread” or sweets together, when baked.  For every 1 cup of milk or half and half, add 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and approximately 1/2 cup of sugar.  The amount of sugar you use will depend on how sweet the bread or baked goods you are using in your pudding are.  If you are using more stale, plain bread you will want to make the custard sweeter than if you are using sweet breads or cake or, as I did, pie.  These items are already sweet so less sugar if necessary.   Also, after you add your custard mixture to the bread/baked goods, you can add chopped apples, raisins, dried fruits, nuts or chocolate chips.  Additionally you can add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, ginger or even a dash of cloves.

This is where you get to be creative and experiment with combinations that suit you.  The amount of custard mixture you use and the amount of spice or fruit, dried or fresh, will depend on how much “bread” you are using.  Put all your bread torn up or cubed into a large bowl and add the basic custard mixture.  Let the mixture sit for 5 -10 minutes for all the bread to absorb the custard.  After sitting, the bread should be very moist with at least a little extra custard unabsorbed and still in the bowl.  If the bread is still a little dry, add more custard.  Keep in mind if you are adding fruit like apples or peaches, they will also add moisture to the pudding so you may not need as much custard.  Likewise, if you are adding dried fruits they will absorb some of the custard so you may need a bit more than you think.  Nuts will not effect the amount of liquid you add as they add crunch and texture but don’t absorb or give off moisture in the finished product.  Pour all the bread mixture and custard into a lavishly buttered baking dish.  Bake at 350 degree for about 30 minutes or until the top of the pudding is golden.  Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and there you have it….old is made new… and BETTER!

Bon Appetite, enjoy Twelfth Night and again Happy New Year!



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