Grandma's Bread Pudding

For some reason I was struck with the desire to make bread pudding and I guess I was thinking out loud because I accidentally mentioned it to my grandmother who lit up at the idea and who can really say no to an excited grandma? Not me.

I've never had it before, but I'd always seen my grandmother make it when I was a little girl. Kid-me was never excited about the idea of eating soggy bread and I wasn't a fan of pudding because I hated the texture. Bread is perfectly fine toasted with butter, grandma, why are you pouring milk all over it? Ick. No one ever forced me to try bread pudding and I'm guessing now that's it's because there was more for them. 

It turns out kid-me was wrong because after I tried grandmas recipe and was surprised at how delicious it was and also far the absolute pudding texture I'd always imagined it to be. Apparently, this bad idea was enough to keep me away from ever trying it for 20 odd years all while my family hoarded this delicious dessert for themselves. Can't say that I blame them terribly but they will be sharing from now on...

If you have a grandmother like mine you love to eat what she makes. It takes you home, every time. Even though my grandmother is quick to say she doesn't cook like she used to, I certainly can't tell the difference between now and ten years ago, that is to say, it's all still delicious. 

If you have a grandmother like mine, every time you say "Grandma, how do you make your..." she responds with a shrug or a higher pitched "I don't know!" like you can't imagine how she could possibly be expected to tell you how to make a dish she's spent years honing into science.

If you have a grandmother like mine, you get as much information about the recipe out of her as possible while taking fervent notes and then mid-recipe you call her to make sure you're doing every thing as she instructed and then some time after the whole thing is done and she has tasted the thing she says "you know, I always add *secret ingredient I didn't tell you about* when I make it."

I think she just doesn't want us taking over her tried and true recipes, but in time I will sleuth all of those little tricks out of her. 

This time the secret ingredient was rum. 

Lucky me, because I know my grandmother so darn well, my secret ingredient was rum-soaked raisins and a buttery rum sauce that I drizzled over the top of the warm bread pudding so perhaps her secret isn't so secret after all.

This is all to say that this recipe will get a bit of tweaking over time, but at least I have a basic idea for what she does and, I might say, it was pretty delicious. I can eat a few more of these until it's perfect.

Grandma and I seem to have different ideas of just how pudding-like bread pudding should be so, I didn't listen (shame on me) and I pulled back on the amount of milk I used. I thought it was perfect, creamy and soft but not over saturated. Grandma thought it could have used a touch more milk. So if you are a grandma style bread pudding lover of the world add at least another 1/2 a cup of milk to this recipe. 

For Bread Pudding:

3/4 French bread loaf
4 large eggs
3 cups of whole milk - for a less pudding dense results
1/2 light or dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg, fresh grated
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp butter

1/4 cup white or dark rum
1/4 cup raisins

In a small dish soak raisins and 1/4 cup of rum for an hour, longer if you can stand it. Best to leave them overnight. Butter an 8x8 pyrex pan or oven safe cookware. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Slice the bread into 1-inch thick slices and butter one side of each slice. Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and lay in baking dish. Warm milk on the stove gently, melt sugar into warm milk, add cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs until well beaten and slowly incorporate your milk 1/2 a cup at a time while gently whisking so the eggs do not cook. Continue until all of the milk is combined. Pour the milk mixture over the bread. Drain the raisins, reserving the rum and sprinkle the raisins into the bread pudding. Toss gently to mix or poke the raisins down into the bread mixture. Allow to rest for 10 minutes to allow some of the milk to absorb. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes.

For Rum Sauce:

1/4 cup rum (reserved from raisin soak)
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat butter in a small saucepan over high heat until melted. Add sugar and rum and stir frequently with a wooden spoon until sauce begins to boil and cook an additional 2-3 minutes stirring carefully. The sauce will thicken as it cools but is thick enough if when you pull the spoon through the saucepan it leaves a line for 2-3 seconds. Remove from heat allow to cool slightly and thicken before pouring over your dessert. 

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