We used to save up all the crusts and ends of loaves to take to the park at the weekend and feed to the ducks. A fond memory, but it doesn’t happen any more – mainly because of the rat problem which has meant that park keepers leave notices requesting that visitors don’t feed bread to the ducks. The fact that the girls are now well into their teens / twenties probably has something to with it as well!
So now one of our top ways to use those leftover bread / bun leftovers is for bread pudding.
Here are two very different sorts of ‘bread pudding’…
Bread & Butter Pudding
A traditional desert – layers of bread with butter and jam set in a vanilla custard.
A fun way to use up those last bits of jam in the pots – or ring the changes with marmalade instead.
Holly loves it cold for breakfast too, with lots of dried fruit suspended in the rich custard.
This is based on Delia Smith’s recipe – vary it by adding more mild / less cream if you’d like a lighter custard – or a few drops of vanilla essence into the custard (or almond essence, especially if you’re using apricot jam). Make it in a well buttered rectangular / oval lesagne type dish approx 18 x 23cm (7 x 9″). I always try to remember to get the butter out of the fridge the day before so it’s good and soft for spreading. Serves 4 – 6.
8 slices of bread from a small loaf – or equivalent. (Cut off crusts if they’re too crusty – make into breadcrumbs instead & mix with grated cheese and herbs to use as an alternative topping for fish pie or macaroni cheese.)
10 g (1/2 oz) whole candied lemon or orange peel, finely chopped - omit if you don’t like it.
50g (2oz) currants / sultanas / raisins
275ml (10 floz) Whole milk (use reduced fat for a lighter custard)
60 ml (21.4fl oz) double cream
50 g (2oz) golden caster sugar (or any caster sugar!)
grated zest of 1/2 lemon – don’t grate down to the white pith as this is really bitter
3 large eggs
Whole nutmeg / vanilla / almond essence.
Soft butter for greasing the dish and buttering the bread
Jam for spreading onto the bread (or marmelade for a sharper flavour)
Preheat oven t gas 4, 350F, 180C.
Spread butter and jam over the bread slices, right to the edges.
Cut bread slices into quarters and arrange one slightly overlapping layer over the base of the dish. Sprinkle over candied peel and dried fruit. Cover with another layer of bread and dried fruit.
Mix eggs in a big, wide jug or bowl. Whisk in cream, sugar, milk and flavourings. Pour over the bread & grate some fresh nutmeg over the top.
Bake in the centre of the preheated oven for 30 – 40 minutes.
Remove and leave for 5 minutes before serving with thick cream.
- Try using different sorts of bread, jams, dried fruits…
- Try substituting one egg for 2 extra yolks or some of the milk for more cream to make it richer. This is real comfort food – make it simple and it’s easily digested too, so good if you’re feeling a little fragile.
Bread Pudding is quite different – mosit, heavy, spicy and with a decidedly winter feel.
A traditional way to use up leftover stale bread (as opposed to fresh leftover bread, which is better for the recipe above), which is broken into pieces then soaked in milk to soften it. Brandy, sherry or similar can be used to re-hydrate currants, sultanas and other dried fruit – and it’s good served with a brandy cream for tea, or cut into small pieces for a spicy treat to waken the taste buds & provide some hearty comfort food at breakfast. This recipe is again based on Delia Smith’s. Try with different combinations of dried fruit, glace cherries…
Serves around 6. Use a baking tin similar to a deep flapjack tin 15.5cm x 20cm x 4.5cm deep. (6 1/4″ x 8″ x 1 3/4″). Line the tin with parchment paper, or butter it well.
225 g (8 oz) Stale brown or white bread, crusts removed. You can also use stale buns, hot cross buns, or similar.
2 teaspoons ground mixed spice.
110g (4 oz) Sultanas
25g (1 oz) currants
25g (1oz) raisins
50g (2oz) candied peel, chopped
3 Tbs brandy or sherry or orange juice
275ml (10 floz) milk
50g (2 oz) butter, melted – plus extra for greasing
75g (30z) soft dark brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
grated zest of 1/2 orange
grated zest of 1 lemon
1Tbs demerara sugar
Place dried fruit and candied peel into a bowl with the brandy. Leave to marinade.
Break bread 1 cm pieces and place in a separate, large bowl. Pour the milk over, stir and leave to absorb for about half an hour by which time the bread should be well soaked.
Preheat the oven to gas 4, 350F, 180C. Make sure there is a shelf in the centre. Line tin.
Beat eggs with a fork. Mix in melted butter, sugar, mixed spice and add to marinated fruits. Add oragne and lemon zest. Add soaked bread and mix gently all together.
Spread into the baking dish. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and freshly grate some nutmeg over the top – not too much!
Bake on the centre shelf of the over for around 1 1/4 hours. If serving as a desert, eat hot with brandy cream (whisk some brandy and sugar into double cream until thick and gloopy).
History of bread puddings – our ancestors throughout the ages have been inventive in an effort not to waste food. There is evidence that the Romans made a type of bread pudding with milk, fat and sugar – although they didn’t use eggs to make a custard, so it would have been denser than the recipe above. Ancient Egyptians reportedly made Om Ali, an Egyptian version, from bread, milk / cream and raisins.
These days, regional varieties are still made all over the world - Shahi Tukra is an Indian dish made from bread, ghee, sugar, saffron, rosewater and almonds. I’d love to hear of other variations still being used today -