I hate wasting food. A big beef roast on Sunday night means I'll be eating steak sandwiches for a week. Too many bananas turning brown means we'll be having banana bread with our afternoon tea. And bread gone stale means the warm smell of cinnamon and nutmeg drifting from the oven: bread pudding. The most delicious form of leftovers yet.
Marrying a Scotsman requires knowing how to make a good bread pudding. It's a staple for them; every woman has her trusty recipe. A few trips back, my mother-in-law made her own "bread and butter pudding", as she called it, whipped up in seconds and left to soak the entire day.
It was amazing and, I think, an intimidation tactic. Her question of "Do you know how to make bread pudding?" was meant to be read as "Do you want to marry my son?" Ha...hee...gulp. No one told me the key to a happy marriage would be the ability to replicate his mother's cooking.
There is only one little problem when it comes to my baking of bread pudding...I hate raisins. Knowing that it's more than sacrilegious to take out raisins from the traditional recipe, I came up with my own solution.
Half dried cranberries, half raisins! His and hers bread pudding! G-g-g-genius.
If I were to make a batch for solely myself I would have swapped it all for chocolate chips, but that's just preposterous. And a world only I live in. A chocolate-crazed, over-indulgent, delicious world.
So we scooped our pieces of pudding, dusted with a delicate snowfall of powdered sugar. Me with my cranberry half, his with his raisins. Lovah devoured the bowl in silence, licked his lips and said, "Mmm, that was just like Mum's."
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book
Butter for greasing
5-6 cups cubed day old bread (about 12 slices of baguette)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
4 cups milk
1/4-1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries
confectioners' sugar for garnish
1. Lightly grease an 8" x 8" baking dish. Spread bread cubes in it.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg until well blended. Pour in the milk until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and let sit 20 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread down to evenly soak.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Scatter the fruit evenly over the surface and press to submerge. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out almost clean, 35-45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a generous dusting of confectioners' sugar.