After a week of making sandwiches for volunteer lunches at the Friends of the Library book sale, I had a sackful of bread ends I’d stashed and the obvious thing to do was bread pudding, an Island favorite.
Bread pudding is one of those dishes with infinite variations and about which people have firm opinions: Some like their pudding so firm it cuts neatly into squares, others prefer a softer, more custardy version; some like raisins, others loath them; some add other fruit, some pour brandy sauce or caramel over; some make leaner versions with nonfat milk, more whites than yolks and less sugar. It’s all to your taste.
This is the version I made, pleasing my friend Auntie Mary Judd no end. Judd, one of the most frugal people I know, hates to see anything go to waste. She even spirited off the pickle juice left over from the gherkins we served with the sandwiches. I’m not really sure how she uses the juice but she was all but giggling with glee.
Basic bread pudding
Softened butter for greasing baking dish
2 cups 2 percent milk
3 beaten eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
5 cups bread cubes
1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons softened butter
Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking dish (I used my oval Emile Henri baker). Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and stir well. Immerse bread cubes in custard, pushing the bread down with the back of a spoon until it’s well covered. If the mixture seems dry, pour in a bit more milk. Stir in raisins. Pour into buttered dish and dot with softened butter. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center emerges clean.
The volunteers went through a double batch without pausing.