A bread pudding is one of the most forgiving desserts you can make, almost
every ingredient can be changed, the proportions of the ingredients can be
changed to suit your taste, and the texture of the dessert can be modified
to suit your taste. The proportions here are just guidelines, not mandates.
- Bread, 4 cups, coarsely chopped.
Preferably stale (though not fungal). Dry, crumbly breads like
French and Italian bread work well, as does sourdough. Some people even
put in a few slices of cake breads, e.g., banana bread. Specialty breads
like raisin bread or oatmeal bread are fine, but savoury breads like
olive bread or garlic bread are probably a bad choice.
- Milk, 2.5 cups.
Depending on your taste, you can use any combination of milk, cream, soy
milk, oat milk, almond milk, cashew milk, buttermilk.
- Sugar, 0.5 to 1 cup.
White sugar is fine, as is brown sugar, though brown sugar will change
the colour, and will also impart more of an earthy-molasses flavour. You
can add applesauce to top off the sugar, or even honey or molasses, but
adding those will add more liquid, so will take longer to bake.
- Eggs, 4 large, lightly beaten.
- Butter, 6-8 tbsp, softened.
- Vanilla essence, 1 tsp.
- Salt, dash, unnecessary if using buttermilk.
- Cinnamon, clove, nutmeg powders, 0.5-1 tsp each depending on taste.
- Ginger, 1-2 tsp powdered or finely-chopped, depending on taste.
- Raisins, 0.5 cup, if desired.
- Walnuts, 0.5 cup, chopped, if desired.
- Coconut flakes, 0.5 cup, if desired.
If they are sweetened, cut back on sugar.
- Grease a 13" x 9" pan (glass or ceramic is best) with a bit of butter.
- In a big mixing bowl, whisk eggs, add sugar, add all milks, add vanilla
and all spices and coconut, but not raisins and nuts, whisk. Add half the
butter and beat - don't worry if the butter doesn't seem to fully mix
into the liquid.
- Layer half the chopped bread in greased pan.
- Pour half of the liquid mix over the bread.
- Dunk the rest of the bread into the remaining liquid in the bowl.
- Layer raisins and walnuts in the pan.
- Pour out the soppy bread-liquid mix from the bowl on top of the
raisins and walnuts.
(Why this complicated process for essentially a big soppy mixture? Ah,
that's the true genius of this recipe. First, if you mix the raisins
and walnuts into the liquid, they will sink and go all the way to the
bottom of the pan where they will burn and stick - the layering ensures
they are in the middle. Next, you don't want soaking bread at the bottom
and bone-dry bread on the top, hence the dry bread goes down, and the
soppy bread is on top. Don't worry, the top bread will still get a
caramelised crust because... gravity and all that.)
- Dot the pudding with the remaining butter. In other words, break up the
remaining butter with your fingers into small pats and place them evenly
over the pudding. Press the bread into the liquid. It's not important
that the liquid covers the bread entirely, but make sure none of the
bread is bone dry.
- Keep covered in the fridge for 30-60 mins. Preheat oven to 350 F. When
ready, pop the pudding into the oven, uncovered for 60 mins. When done,
check if a toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool for about 1-2 hours before serving. You can serve as-is, or a la
mode, or with some syrup drizzled over it, or with some chocolate chips
melted over it.