The Covenant: I make bread pudding and think of mom

When I was in high school, my mom and I read James Michener’s The Covenant. One of the main story lines is about a Boer family whose traditional dessert is bread pudding.

After my mom read it, she said  she would like to have a dessert that’s a family tradition, and she thought bread pudding would be a good choice. So, we made bread pudding. I remember it being a little mushy, and it must not have been very good because we never made it again.

Years later, I ordered bread pudding in a restaurant and liked it. Then it became trendy and appeared on many restaurant menus, and I continued to order it. A couple of years ago, I was at the National Restaurant Association trade show in Chicago, and Oprah’s former personal chef Art Smith did a demonstration in which he made bread pudding.

It didn’t seem that hard. He cut some bread into cubes, added sugar, milk and eggs and baked it. More or less.

I began making bread pudding at home, but all of the recipes that I found at first, including the one in Shaw’s cookbook, called for a loaf of bread. I rarely have a spare loaf of bread sitting around. Plus, the recipes made a lot of pudding, and I really shouldn’t be eating all that myself. (G., so far, is not a bread pudding fan.)

Then I found a smaller bread pudding recipe at Moms Who Think. It’s awesome, and it requires only a bit of bread. Since my mom gave me her bread machine, I often have a bit of bread left over. I’ll make a loaf, and G. and I can’t seem to eat it all before it starts to get stale. Bread pudding is a great way to soften it up into something usable.

I’ve been playing with the recipe, and I tend to use dried cherries rather than raisins. I don’t make the sauce to go on top because it’s already sweet enough. Also, I like almond, so this week I made an almond and cherry version. It makes me think of my mom, who also likes almond flavor. Maybe we’ll have a bread pudding tradition in our family after all.

Cherry Almond Bread Pudding
2 cups milk (or half-and-half)
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon almond extract (I might go with 1/2 next time.)
3 cups bread, cut in cubes
1/2 cup dried cherries

In medium saucepan, over medium heat, heat milk (or half & half) and butter. Let it warm until butter is entirely melted.

Combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and almond extract. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed for 1 minute. Slowly add milk mixture.

Place bread in a lightly greased 1.75- or 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle on dried cherries and toss with bread. Pour batter on top of bread.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm.

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One response to “The Covenant: I make bread pudding and think of mom

  1. HI, I never liked bread pudding yet I still remember reading that book because of the bread pudding description…And its the only reason I ever tried making it. The power of books!

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