Monday, 9 September 2019

A Money Saving, Waste Reducing, Better Tasting Bread Pudding!

This recipe is for your classic, standard bread pudding, but with a twist!

If you just want to go directly to the recipe, without the story behind it, scroll down a bunch or click here

Like many of my recipes, this was born of necessity (read, poverty), using what was on hand, on sale, or free to feed a hungry household on the dirt cheap. 

This one came about because of bagels. Lots of bagels. Many, many, MANY bagels. An amount of bagels that made the excess of stale loaves of bread seem paltry by comparison.

The food bank always had three things that you could have in unlimited quantities. Those were potatoes, onions, and older than day old bread. There was always more than they could offload back then, cause the economy wasn't completely jacked. (But let's avoid that side rant, for now. Today is recipe day, not political rant day!)

So, on this particular week, in addition to the regular, plentiful, varieties of breads and other stale-ish baked goods, they had approximately 8 gazillion loads of all the bagels in the world. Consequently, each client got one full measure of all the bagels in the world. 
You think I'm unnecessarily exaggerating, but I'm not. We walked away with two of those huge, black trash bags full of bagels, for a household of 6 people. Every variety you can find in the bakery was there, and then some. 

The freezer was stuffed with bagels. The deep freezer was stuffed with bagels.
 WE were stuffed with bagels!

We ate toasted bagels, bagels with cream cheese, breakfast bagels, mini bagel pizzas, peanut butter bagels, bagels and gravy, SOS over bagels, bagel sandwiches, bagel hamburgers, bagels for snacks, bagel breadcrumbs, bagel croutons, bagel dog, cat, and rat treats... You get the idea. 

We were running out of new things to do with them and, frankly, getting pretty tired of bagels, when one of my housemates mentioned it on a phone call to his (Mormon - traditional - home cooked everything) mother. She said, "Well, why dont you make up a bunch of bread pudding?" 

None of us actually knew what bread pudding was at the time.. Just that it didn't sound very appetizing, but she insisted it was delicious and made him write down the recipe. (This was before YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and even before most households had internet at all. AOL was just starting to gain steam then, and dinosaurs still roamed the Earth). Once I looked at it, and figured out that "pudding" didn't mean what I thought it did, it sounded worth trying, so I did. And it was AMAZING! 

The bagels made the texture kind of chewy and more substantial than a typical bread pudding (which I found out much later), and the combo of cinnamon raisin, blueberry, oat, bran, sourdough, regular, and  other types of bagels made for an out of this world taste. We weren't tired of bagels anymore! We made it for the kids' school, for the neighbours, for a block party, brought it to picnics and potlucks, and ate far more bread pudding than we probably should have in any given time, but you can get away with that in your 20s! 

Later, I tried making "normal" bread pudding, rather than the poor people version, and discovered that I didn't like it nearly as much, so I started experimenting with different types of baked goods. that were old, but not mouldy. Breads, donuts, muffins, you name it!

Later still, when I started baking my own bread, and discovered that when it doesn't have preservatives in it, it goes bad WAY faster, and has to be stuffed in the freezer if not used in about 4 days. SO I ended up with lots of partial loaves of bread, leftover rolls, and the like, as well as a few failed loaves that didn't rise, but were still GREAT for adding different textures and flavours to the ever-evolving bread pudding. 

At some point, it occurred to me that I could try throwing those fortune cookies, and stale crackers, and random other cookies that didn't get eaten into a batch. Yup! Worked great! And, of course, you can customise the recipe with lots of add ins too, but that is some other posts. 

For this one, it's just the improved, classic version.

Now, if you like, you an totally just use regular, day old read, and it will still taste great, but in my opinion, the taste and texture is WAY better with a variety of bread stuffs!

Here is the recipe...

World's Best Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

  •     1/lb of stale bread products (about 1/2 store-bought loaf amount) 
(Up to half can be sweets, like cookies, donuts, cake, brownies, etc)
  •     3 Tablespoons of butter (1 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp)
  •     4 Beaten Eggs
  •     2 Cups Milk or half & half (or soy/almond/rice/coconut/other milk)
  •     3/4 cup of white sugar
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Optional Ingredients:
  •     dried, canned, or fresh fruit
  •     nuts
  •     cardamom
  •     other spices
   
Instructions:

  •     Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and use 1 Tablespoon of butter to coat the inside of your 8 in. square baking dish, cast iron fryer (deep) skillet or dutch oven.
You can also use individual ramekins or smaller dishes. If you do, reduce initial baking time by 10-15 minutes and check to See if done.
  • Break your bready things into around 1" or smaller pieces into the buttered baking dish along with your add ins. Make sure different ingredients are distributed fairly evenly.
  • Melt your remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, and drizzle over bread pieces. 
  • In a bowl, whisk your eggs well, then mix remaining ingredients, including sugars/syrups, extracts, and spices until mixed thoroughly.
  • Pour mixture over the bread and add-ins and stir it up a bit, making sure it's all well coated.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top of the bread pudding springs back after lightly touching it with a fork.

 I swear by cast iron for most baking, and use either my Dutch oven or fryer skillet for this recipe, depending on what size batch I'm making.  

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