Hard Times Bread Pudding

By Patsy Hollingum

This is a recipe for old fashioned bread pudding using stale white bread.
It’s a good way to use up really stale bread, including the crusts. As it is a recipe for using up “left-overs” I have not given exact quantities, however, don’t go over the top with the spices. The dried fruit acts as a sweetener, so no need to add sugar to the mix.

Break or cut the bread into chunks and place the pieces in a large bowl. Pour in enough very hot wa- ter, to go a little way up the sides of the bowl without swamping the top. It shouldn’t “swim” in it. Leave it to soak for 15 mins or so, stirring the uncovered top pieces in so they too absorb the water. Drain off the excess by transferring it to a colander over the bowl and press out the excess moisture, it shouldn’t drip when it’s been thoroughly drained.

Next, mash up the drained mixture so that it is blended thoroughly. This will be like a slightly sticky dough but must not be “mushy”.

Add melted butter or a vegan alternative and stir until well mixed. If desired, add a medium egg to make it more nourishing.

Add mixed spice, nutmeg or cinnamon, according to preference, then follow with dried fruit of your choice – chopped apricots with chopped mixed peel, or raisins, currants and sultanas work well. Transfer mixture to a cake tin, preferably square, and flatten the top with the back of a spoon, then sprinkle with a layer of demerara sugar.

Cook at 145˚C for about an hour, lowering the temperature if the top browns too much. The sugar topping should be crunchy but not burnt. Check whether the pudding is cooked by pressing lightly on the top, and observe whether the sides are shrinking away from the tin.

Serve warm with custard, fresh cream or ice cream, or eat cold as a filling snack.

The mix and its subsequent success rely on the gluten in the bread to bind them as the pudding cooks.