Bread pudding recipes found in historic cookbooks offer numerous preparation suggestions. Many bread puddings are boiled, while others are baked in a crust. Ingredients for seasoning vary; they include grated lemon zest, rose water, vinegar combined with butter, raisins, or currants as well as spices such as ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. This baked, firm-textured bread pudding is an adaptation of a Hannah Glasse recipe, with variations drawn from other sources.
2 cups half-and-half
3 sticks cinnamon, broken into pieces
3 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups breadcrumbs (grated from stale bread)
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Boiled Custard or Fairy Butter for serving (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish.
2. In a saucepan, combine the half-and-half with the cinnamon sticks and lemon zest. Scald (bring just below the boil) over medium heat, whisking constantly. Do not let the milk boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and set aside to cool to room temperature. Stir occasionally.
3. Combine the breadcrumbs with the currants in a large bowl. Add the sugar, salt, nutmeg, and ginger and combine well.
4. When the milk has cooled, strain and discard the cinnamon sticks. Whisk in the eggs. Pour into the breadcrumb mixture, and combine thoroughly.
5. Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool to room temperature before serving.
6. Serve slices of the bread pudding with Boiled Custard or Fairy Butter, if desired.
Serves 6 to 8
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