Like nearly everyone else, my husband and I sometimes crave a dessert. Of course, we feel that we should refuse to go along with that urge – at least most of the time. As we all know, excess sugar in the diet brings on problems like: weight gain, skin and hair problems, and even more serious conditions such as diabetes and lowered resistance to infections. But, from time-to-time, something a little sweet is next to irresistible. And since almost no one wants to totally abstain from desserts, what I recommend is a healthy change toward the not-so-sweet side of things. That's where bread pudding comes in.
Bread pudding is a tasty use for stale bread that has been in style for centuries. Along with bread pudding, cooks also used dry bread to make stuffing, thickeners and edible serving containers. Today, bread pudding may not be as common as it once was, but it’s never gone out of style in Appalachian and Southern states and also continues to be popular in Mexico, Great Britain, Belgium and France. For a lot of us, it's still one of our favorite comfort foods, helping us remember a time in the past when dessert was usually made from common kitchen ingredients and wastefulness was considered a terrible wrong.
In our home, we eat a lot of fruit, flavored yogurt, nuts, and granola, and that usually satisfies our dessert cravings. But when a dessert is definitely called for, usually for a holiday celebration or a special dinner with family or friends, I like to make something that's a fitting following to a good meal. Often that "something" is bread pudding. So, if you're also looking for a dessert that's not too sweet, bread pudding is great dish that sure to please. Besides that, it gives you a use for stale bread, a situation that often occurs near the end of the week. (I usually just chop it up into coarse crumbs and freeze it. Later I make bread pudding or add it to my "almost- meatless meat-loaf". See related post below.)
The sweet alternative for leftover bread is to make old-fashioned bread pudding - not too sugary and plump with raisins with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, served up cold or warm out of the oven. And it can be made from any type of bread (whole wheat, white, multigrain, etc.) Homemade bread usually goes fast, but if you have any leftover, it makes really great tasting bread pudding. And, your dessert will look particularly festive if you serve it up in glass custard cups with a bit of syrup or whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon on top.
Whatever reason you have for making and serving bread pudding, you can be sure it's a truly satisfying and eco-friendly treat.
Old-fashion bread pudding recipeHere's a version of old fashioned bread pudding that’s as close as I can get to what my mother used to make.
Ingredients2 cups of heated milk
4 cups of dry bread, torn in pieces
1/4 cup melted butter1/2-cup brown sugar or honey
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/3 cup seeded raisins or chopped dates
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
- Stir in all remaining pudding ingredients. Pour into a greased casserole pan.
- Put bread and raisins in large bowl. Heat milk and 1/4 cup melted butter in a saucepan. Pour warm mixture over bread; let stand 10 minutes.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Added to the basic recipe, you can include any of the following: fresh fruit cut up, minced nuts, a sweet liquor added in place of all or part of the milk, or a topping of honey, maple syrup, or confectioners sugar. If you’re going to put something sugary on top of your bread pudding, cut back some on the brown sugar in pudding.
If your bread pudding tends to dry out in the oven, place a bowl of water on another shelf while the pudding bakes. This keeps delicate foods, like this bread pudding, from burning, drying out, or curdling. Check the water level during the baking time and add more hot water as necessary.