When you grow up in defense camps, there are a few desserts that become your staple food. You expect to eat them at every party, event, social gathering or get-together. In fact, these desserts become so much a part of your childhood that you either learn to love them like comfort food or you hate them.
I share a love hate relationship with two such desserts – Caramel custard and Bread pudding.
I absolutely love caramel custard with its topping of bitter-sweet caramel. But, I have always hated the bread pudding that I got to eat as a child or even at people’s houses as an adult.
Here’s the thing. The Bread pudding is the easiest dessert to put together and yet the hardest to make. The reason is that this sweet dish is all about the right balance of ingredients in it. You put in too few eggs and the dish does not bake to perfection and gives you a milky taste. You use too many eggs and it turns out eggy (the taste of an eggy dish is something I abhor).
So, over the years I experimented till I came up with the perfect recipe for bread pudding. My recipe will give you a wonderful aroma of vanilla and spices and does not taste eggy at all. It has a golden crust, is spongy and light and literally melts in your mouth. And, the best part is that I use very little butter and no cream at all. Even the milk I use is double toned and not full cream.
Here’s how I make…
6 slices of day old bread
2 cups milk (at room temperature)
4 eggs (at room temperature)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp nutmeg powder
1 ½ tsp vanilla essence (if you are using concentrated essence then use 1 tsp)
2 tbsp melted butter (unsalted)
2 pinches of table salt (If using salted butter then omit this step)
¾ cup of sugar (regular granulated sugar)
2 tbsp raisins (optional)
2 tbsp chocolate chips (optional)
- preheat the oven to 180 deg C
- Grease a baking dish. Note – use an 8 or 9 inch square or oval baking dish. The pudding tends to swell up in size.
- Cut the bread in 1 inch pieces and place the pieces in the baking dish
- In a large mixing bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together. Add one egg at a time and continue whisking till all four eggs are incorporated. Note – most recipes do not involve whisking of the eggs but I find that the result is better if they are whisked.
- Add the milk, vanilla essence, cinnamon and nutmeg powder, salt and the vanilla essence. Mix well to incorporate all ingredients.
- Melt the butter and pour it directly over the bread in the baking dish.
- Strew some raisins and choco chips on the bread in the dish and then pour over the egg mixture.
- The bread will rise to the top when you pour the wet mix in. So, with the back of a fork, push the bread down till all the bread is well soaked in the wet mixture.
- Bake at 180 deg C for 50-52 minutes. Note – I use a microwave oven so it takes that long to bake. A regular oven may take less time so check the dish around the 30-35 minute mark.
- The pudding will be baked if the top is golden brown in shade and is springy to the touch i.e., when you push it down with your finger tips it will appear spongy and will spring back up to regain its shape.
- That’s it. That is your pudding done.
- I prefer to serve mine with shavings of dark chocolate on top. You can also use some bitter sweet caramel syrup. That tastes heavenly too.
Note – sometimes I like to mix things up in this recipe. I add 1 tbsp of instant vanilla custard powder to the milk or a tbsp of cocoa powder. Both ingredients give the dish a distinctive flavour. Truth be told, this dish is pretty versatile. You can mix and match to your heart’s content. Instead of choco- chips, you can also use shards of dark chocolate or tutti-fruity.