Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Used bread" bread pudding

We try to live frugal -- when you live on a fixed income these days, you don't have much choice in that.

One of the ways we try to keep our grocery spending within our means is to shop for the marked down things. My mother has been doing this for years -- she refers to it as "used food".

Recently a trip through the "used bread" in my local market yielded up a loaf of frosted cinnamon raisin bread -- it made great breakfasts, but it was a big loaf, so it started to get stale before we could eat it all.

My solution was to turn it into dessert!

Here's the ingredient list:

For the pudding
3 to 4 cups of bread cut into about 1 inch cubes -- I've used left over cinnamon rolls for this too
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins or craisins
1 recipe of hard sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Select a glass baking dish that will hold at least 1 1/2 quart, spray with non-stick spray, set aside

In a small sauce pan, bring the milk and the butter just to a boil and remove from the heat

Lightly beat eggs, sugar, salt and cinnamon together, add a small amount of the hot milk to the egg mixture and beat again, then pour the egg mixture and the milk together in a bowl to mix (caution: don't skip that adding hot milk to the eggs step or you'll end up with scrambled egg which is not what you want here -- this is called "tempering" and it's an important technique to know when you do baking or working with chocolate)

Add bread and raisins or craisins and mix well -- let the bread soak up the liquids

Pour into prepared baking dish

Place baking dish in a pan (I use a 9 by 12 inch metal baking pan) that will hold water 1 inch deep around the glass dish.

TIP: put the two pans in the oven and use a large measuring cup to add the water to the pan while it's on the oven shelf -- when you take the pudding out, let the metal pan sit in the oven until the water has cooled before you take it out -- this may be a bit "fiddly" but it will keep you from getting a nasty scalding burn

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes -- until a knife inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean

Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or hard sauce

Recipe for hard sauce:

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
5 tbls milk or cream
1/2 tsp almond extract

Beat cream cheese until fluffy

Add sugar gradually, beating after each addition

Add milk and almond, and mix well

Cover and chill

(this is great used on banana nut bread or just about any other sweet bread too)


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gum Drop Bread

most of the family recipes I use came from my mother or my grandmother, but this one is from the DH's side of the family

the DH is a first generation American, and his English family brought this recipe with them

it's sort of like fruit cake -- but not quite!

and this year, for the first time in quite a few years, I decided to make up a batch, both for our eating pleasure and to share with friends

Here is the ingredient list:

1 pound walnuts or pecans, rough chopped (we prefer pecans)
1 pound dates, rough chopped (do yourself a favor and buy the packages that are already cut)
1 pound fruit flavored gum drops (no black ones, and the spice ones are not the right thing)
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs, separated
2 tsp vanilla

this year our obstacle was we could not find anything but spice gum drops!

my local Sunflower market, however had jellied fruit slices in the bulk bin, so I brought home a little over a pound of those and used my kitchen shears to cut them into "gum drop" sized pieces

(if you need to do this, it helps a lot to dip your kitchen shears in sugar frequently to keep the blades from becoming too sticky)

this is what they looked like when I got done

while you're cutting things, if you need to cut the dates, use the same technique for them

and do the rough chop on the nuts

turn on your oven to preheat -- only 300 degrees for this recipe

this can be done in two standard loaf pans, but I usually use this pan plus one more pan the same size (it's really nice to be able to put these all in like one pan!)

to prepare your pans -- cut parchment paper (or brown paper) to fit the pan (I use a strip that is the width of the pan and long enough to go down the long side, along the bottom then back up the other long side plus about another 2 inches on each end that can be a "handle" when removing the loaves from the pan)

grease the pans (or use non-stick spray), fit the paper into the pan, then grease or spray again

set the pans aside and mix the dough
put all of the chopped ingredients (gum drops, nuts, dates) into a large bowl and stir to mix well

in a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, salt and baking powder

sprinkle this dry mixture over the chopped ingredients

stir and "toss" to coat everything well with the dry ingredients

separate the eggs, beat vanilla into the egg yolks

using a mixer, beat egg whites until light and foamy (not too stiff)

pour egg yolks over fruit and mix, then add the egg whites and fold to combine all of the ingredients (be sure all of the dry stuff at the bottom of the bowl gets mixed in)

divide and press batter into pans (make sure there aren't any big gaps)

bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes

as soon as they come out of the oven, use a flat spatula along the un-papered side of each loaf, then use the paper "handles" to lift each loaf out of the pan to a rack

peel off the paper carefully and let set on the rack until totally cooled

wrap in foil and tie with a bow for gift giving, or slice and eat and enjoy!