Nostalgia has led me into the kitchen this Thanksgiving week to try my hand at making old-fashioned bread pudding; it’s an old favorite. Mama used to make this for us on rare occasions, which only makes it all the more special. Now, Although I don’t have my mama’s original recipe, I think I came up with a suitable substitute. It’s warm, sweet, buttery and better than I remember. Read on to find out how it all came out.
Raisin Cinnamon Walnut Old Fashioned Bread Pudding
This old fashioned bread pudding is a delicious treat that is so rich; you will want to plan ahead to make room for this on your holiday menu. It is ideal for making up a batch when you feel the need for the comforts of home. With a classic bread pudding base and the delicious flavors of sweet raisin, cinnamon, and the nutty addition of toasted walnuts, you’ll probably want to skip dinner and just enjoy dessert.
Mostly we like what we like because of the foods and traditions we grew up with. That’s a given, right? Recipes and ways of doing things, for the most part, come down to us from our parents. We learn passively or directly how to keep a household, prepare certain foods or even ways of speech from our parents. And so it is with this bread pudding. My mama (bless her soul) was a pretty good cook. I didn’t know my maternal granddad, he was long gone before I came around, but the family lore is that he too was a good cook as well. So maybe my love for cooking is steeped in my DNA than influenced by cooking channels.
My mama used to make bread pudding every blue moon. It was one of those spontaneous treats she used to whip up just because. And it wasn’t a holiday treat although she tended to make it in the colder months. It was just one of those my mama did just because just because the mood hit her.
I have no idea how she learned to make it; my mom grew up in the late 50s and 60s long before the glut of cooking shows we have today. And cookbooks, although available probably were not the source of her cooking knowledge. So that leaves family as the likely influence, and even perhaps her father. I would watch my mama tear pieces of old bread into chunks add Pioneer sugar, eggs, raisins, Carnation condensed milk, butter (Land O’ Lakes was her go-to butter), a mix of spices (namely cinnamon) and vanilla extract. These are the ingredients I remember. However, I don’t recall everything, nor do I remember particular measurements.
All I know is my mom’s bread pudding was delicious, satisfying and left you wanting more. One of my biggest regrets is not getting to have those conversations about food. So, when my mama passed we lost more than just our mother, we lost a big chunk of our family’s identity. We also lost the homespun flavors and aromas we grew up around. We have forever lost our most cherished food secrets. But am I re-remembering it wrong? At times we humans tend to romanticize the past, pick and choose moments within moments to hold onto or disregard for whatever reason. Having said all of that, I am pretty certain mama’s bread pudding was good, I even sent messages to a few of my siblings just to confirm.
As far as bread puddings go the one I created is a standard issue. It has all of the usual things, namely bread, which make a bread pudding a bread pudding. There’s also the prerequisite eggs, milk, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. But just as the namesake implies the bread is essential, but the quality of the bread will make or break the end results. I used bread from one of my favorite bread makers. Breadsmith’s Apple Cinnamon Walnut Bread is a great bread for this recipe, but if you want to stay in familiar territory try their Honey, White. I get Breadsmith bread at our local Michigan-based Horrock’s, but you can search their website for locations near you. When you are using good bread, you’re already off to a very good start. You can find the rest of the recipe down below.
I will end with this. If your mom is still around, give her a big hug, tell her you love her and spend as much time with her as you can. Take her or make her lunch, give her a call just because. Because she won’t be around forever. Bon appetit.
Raisin Cinnamon Walnut Old Fashioned Bread Pudding
- 5 cups of apple cinnamon walnut bread cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs + 2 egg whites
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cut bread into one (1″) cubes until you get four (4) to five (5) cups.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer add milk, eggs, egg whites, butter, and vanilla extract, mix until all of the ingredients are combined.
- Add the granulated sugar and light brown sugar and mix well until the sugars are dissolved.
- Place the bread cubes into a high-walled medium size (9″ to 10″) baking dish, arrange them evenly.
- Scatter the raisins over the bread.
- Next, pour the bread pudding egg mixture over the bread cubes.
- Place on the center rack of the oven and back for an hour (60) minutes.
- Remove from the oven and smear 1 1/2 cup of marshmallow cream over the top, it doesn’t have to be smooth, just a thin layer will do.
- Turn the oven to high broil. Place the bread pudding back into the oven and brown the marshmallow creme. This step will only take several seconds, so watch it closely, or you will scorch and burn the marshmallow top.
- Once the top is golden brown remove the dish from the oven and let it stand for three (3) minutes.