It’s amazing how many terrific recipes and foods have roots back to humble beginnings. Perhaps it’s the make the best of what you have attitude or, and in the case of Bread Pudding to make sure stale bread or not, food could not to be wasted.
Bread pudding can be traced back to 11th century England and quickly became known as the “Poor Mans Pudding” with a variation evolving over time as Bread and Butter Pudding which is said to have debuted in an English cookbook “The Complete Housewife” in the 18th century – I’d like to see someone get away with that title today!.
Nowadays, and not unlike Braised Beef Shanks or Risotto, (see posts) Bread Pudding spans all social classes and can be enjoyed at the finest restaurants, diners and “greasy spoons” around the globe. A far cry from its simple beginnings of stale bread, eggs, butter, sugar and milk there are as many recipes and complex concoctions as there are cooks, causing purists to snub many offerings.
Whether served warm or cold, with bananas or raisins and a multitude of syrups and oh – it must have cinnamon – this dessert is one of our family favorites. Bread pudding is the ultimate comfort food, and the only debate we seem to have is keeping everyone patient – to ensure that the bread is stale enough to create this culinary delight.
I like mine served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the top must be crispy, but others in our family differ. Here are a couple of time-tested recipes from our Test Kitchen which we easily modify for our vegan daughter. I believe the Bread Pudding Gods will approve!
Banana Raisin Bread Pudding
This recipe is modified from the Kraft foods website, with a little bit of inspiration and advice from a Martha Stewart recipe.
Lightly grease or spray a 9″ by 13″ baking dish. Cube enough bread to loosely fill the dish. For this dish, if you can – use brioche bread or buns, and raisin bread – but if you don’t have any of those – that’s OK – white bread will do, it’s just not quite as fancy. Slice the bread into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes. (I used 6 slices of raisin bread, one large brioche hot dog bun, and half a loaf of sliced french loaf.)
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 box Instant Vanilla Pudding mix
Pour the mixture over the bread – making sure to stir to coat all of the bread pieces.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup raisins over the top
Slice 3 to 4 bananas and spread over the top
Bake for 35 minutes in Preheated 350 degree oven
Serve with whipped Cream or vanilla Ice Cream, sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon or icing sugar if you like! Bread pudding is so easy to make, and I love that I don’t have to make it exactly the same way each time.
Blueberry Bread Pudding Recipe
As with the Banana Raisin Bread Pudding this recipe is best using what you have on hand!
Lightly spray or grease and 8 by 8 baking dish.
4-5 cups cubed bread – enough to fill baking dish (stale is good in this case. Brioche, or challah will add some texture, but hot dog buns, white sandwich bread and leftover French bread will do as well)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries – (berry mix substitutions work as well – sometimes I use a packaged frozen dark cherry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry mix)
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey or 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water, milk or orange juice ( the orange juice adds a bit of flavour)
sprinkle of salt
sprinkle of cinammon
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 tablespoons lemon juice – (I used reconstituted, but fresh is better – if not using orange juice use 3 tablespoons – if using dark cherries, strawberries or raspberries which are more tart, dial it back to 2 tablespoons)
Stir all ingredients together and press into baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees F, for 40 minutes stirring halfway through baking, just to toss ingredients lightly and make sure frozen blueberries are evenly distributed.
(apologies for the quality of this picture – blueberry bread pudding gets made quite often around our house but typically is eaten before I get the camera ready!)
Let cool but not too long, and serve with something sweet and creamy – perhaps yogurt!
This can be a vegan recipe, if you use bread that is vegan, leave out the milk and use vegan margarine of course. I play with the tartness of this recipe as I find blueberries to be a little bit bland sometimes, so I add extra lemon juice, or use orange juice as the liquid ingredient. If you are using other berries, you may need a little more sweetness!