Bread pudding, warm from the oven, is a childhood favorite of mine. I have tweaked the recipe to make it my own, using dry French or Vienna bread, instead of just any white bread, and I have increased the number of eggs and cups of milk. I love this dessert, especially during cold months, but it is a comfort to me any time of year. This recipe makes about nine 2/3 cup portions. A variant on this can be made with tart dried cherries.
4 C. scalded milk
1 TBS. butter
1 ½ C. dark raisins
4 C. cubed, dried bread; Vienna or French works best.
4 large eggs
¼ tsp. salt
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla
2/3 C. white granulated sugar
Tools and equipment:
A medium saucepan
A mixing bowl
Measuring cups, for both dry and wet measures
A medium wire whisk
A good knife for cubing bread
Bread cutting board
A two quart casserole dish
A larger baking dish
Warm water: This is for the hot water bath to set the two quart casserole in for baking. If you don’t use a hot water bath below and around your casserole dish, your raisins will scorch and ruin the pudding.
Begin by scalding four cups of milk in a medium saucepan. Set aside to cool. Scalded milk is milk heated to just before boiling. I use 1/2 % milk, to reduce the fat content.
Use the butter to grease the two quart casserole dish. Then add the raisins to the casserole dish, making a single layer of them on the bottom of the dish. If it looks thin, add a few more. I like lots of raisins. They give an added sweetness to this dish, and they also add a sort of caramel flavor.
Cube your bread. I hold the sharp knife in one hand and press down on it with my other palm on the knife over the cutting board to cube my dried bread, so it keeps the bread from bouncing all over and making a mess. Once you have your four cups of bread cubes, toss them into the casserole dish over your raisins, crumbs and all. Gently spread them out evenly in one layer, making sure to not move your raisins around.
Pour warm, almost hot, water into the bigger baking dish until you have about ¾ to 1″ water in the pan. At this point, set your casserole dish with the butter, raisins, and bread into the bigger baking dish.
Break the eggs into your mixing bowl, one at a time, making sure to not get bits of shell into the mixing bowl. I like mixing bowls with handles because they give me extra grip on my bowl when whisking eggs or mixing up a cake or muffins. Use the medium wire whisk for this, and whisk until the yolks and whites are completely combined.
To the eggs, add the sugar, and mix until blended. Add the salt and vanilla, and whisk until all is combined.
Finally whisk in your slightly cooled milk, making sure to briskly whisk the egg mixture while adding all the milk, so your eggs don’t curdle. Once it is all mixed together, add it to your casserole dish that contains the butter, raisins, and bread. I use the whisk here, to gently push the bread back down, so it absorbs the milk, sugar, and egg mixture.
Sprinkle the top of your dish with ground nutmeg. I am a big fan of nutmeg, so I use a generous portion all over it. It smells heavenly while baking and adds flavor to your dessert.
Bake at 350 for about an hour, but check it after 50 minutes to see if it has set up. As with all custard dishes, it’s done when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Some people serve this with a dollop of whipped cream on top. For me, that’s not needed. All I need with this is a cup of green decaf tea or a big glass of milk. As soon as this batch is done, I am going to serve a bowl of this up for myself and enjoy its sweet flavor and lovely, custardy texture. Ahh! There goes the timer! The smell of warm nutmeg is everywhere in my house. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.