Along with pound cake, bread pudding is a dessert I grew up eating. One of my grandmothers made great bread pudding. It was one of the few things she was still making “from scratch” when I was growing up. My mom’s bread pudding was very similar to that made by my dad’s mother—both in taste and quality. Of course, I learned from both of them and made bread pudding the same way—using stale bread and saved ends of bread and throwing it all together with a few eggs, spices, and milk. There was never a recipe. You sort of eyeballed how much bread you had once you crumbled it in a bowl, covered it with milk, added some eggs, and went on from there. This method actually worked pretty well, but you were never 100% sure your bread pudding would be a success until you had your first bite. Then one day a good friend of mine, Denise, brought her bread pudding into work for a luncheon. It was wonderful! It had a rich custard flavor, but wasn’t heavy in any way, and the cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla made both the smell and taste lovely. Best of all, Denise had an actual recipe … with measurements. What a concept! LOL With her recipe, one could re-create delicious bread pudding over and over—with no moments of uncertainty. I passed the recipe on to my mom and she’s been enjoying using it for many years now. Denise’s recipe guarantees success every time. Incidentally, Denise also made a scumptious pound cake. That recipe she would not share. Instead, she made pound cakes for everyone during the holidays. As you can imagine, nobody complained about the lack of the actual recipe.
Of course, going gluten free made me push the bread pudding recipe card to the back of the box. But, when I had some leftover gluten-free challah bread from a vendor’s donation to our support group, I thought it was time to pull out the recipe again. I’m happy to report that it worked beautifully! So start saving your stale bread and look forward to a delightful dessert. It makes a very nice breakfast, too. Bread pudding is often served with distinctive sauces like lemon, vanilla, caramel, and even whiskey, but I grew up enjoying it with a little milk poured over it. (We actually did that for any type of pudding.) This time, I enjoyed it with a drizzle of honey mixed with some vanilla.
Oh, Mr. GFE is not a big fan of bread pudding … unless I add some raisins, then he’ll enjoy a bowl or two. I added a small amount of raisins to part of the bread pudding mix left in the bowl to allow one section of the pan just for him. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos that really show the raisins. But, if you love raisins, be sure to head over to Diane’s Friday Foodie Fix at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang where you’ll find lots of recipes that feature raisins.
Old-Fashioned Bread Pudding (Gluten Free, Dairy Free–If You Wish)
(Click here for a printable version of this recipe.)
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg
1 tbsp vanilla extract
12-ounce can evaporated milk (see coconut milk and other substitution info in notes below)
½ can (¾ cup) of water
1 cup raisins, optional
4 cups of gluten-free bread, crumbled (I like chunky pieces)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease 9 x 13 baking pan.
In large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract.
Add bread and raisins (if used) to mixture.
Pour milk into saucepan. Fill milk can halfway with water; add to saucepan with water. Heat milk and water over medium heat until warm, not hot.
Add milk and water mix to other ingredients in bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.
Pour into baking pan and bake for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold, topped with milk or any sauce of your choice.
Shirley’s Notes: Any leftover bread, muffins, waffles, and such, should work. Even the results of failed recipes for such “bread” products could potentially be used. If you only have a small amount at any given time, just stockpile them in a container in the freezer until you have 4 cups worth. If using coconut milk, you can use the full can, which is generally 14 ounces, but be sure to use only ½ cup of water in that case. Regular, whole or 2% milk can also be used, but the resulting bread pudding won’t be quite as “rich” as with evaporated milk or coconut milk. Coconut sugar or palm sugar can easily be substituted for the granulated sugar for an even richer taste that’s lower glycemic.
Adapted from my friend, Denise
The bowl in the photos is from my grandmother’s china. Even with cracks and chips, it gives me such joy to use it. Spooning my bread pudding out of this bowl, I can almost imagine myself back at Grandma’s table.
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