Bread pudding is a simple way to transform stale bread into a wide variety of simple treats. Bread puddings are versatile, easy to make and supremely tasty. They are one of my favourite comfort foods.
Yield: Serves 8
1 pound stale bread, cut into cubes
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit
3 cups milk
1 cup white or brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or your favourite baking spice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coarse sugar
Preheat your oven to 350 °F (180 °C).
Toss the bread and raisins into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, your choice of sweetener, your favourite spice and the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the bread and stir until the bread is coated. At first, the bread will float on the milk mixture, but after a few minutes it will begin to absorb it and sink.
Let rest for 15 minutes or so and then pour it into a 9-inch square lightly greased ovenproof casserole dish. Sprinkle coarse sugar overtop and bake until the eggs set, the pudding firms and the top is golden brown, about 1 hour.
For lots of extra flavour, take the time to toast the bread until golden brown. For an extra special touch, try using challah, brioche or croissants. You may use honey or maple syrup instead of sugar, and you may replace the cinnamon with the baking spice of your choice. Ground cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, allspice or cloves all work well.