Admittedly it was not a good decision for me to make both Brioche and Buttermilk Bread the day before Kiki arrived in town on a business trip. (I can make bread any time, but it’s not every day that I get to spend time with Kiki.)
After wining and dining with Kiki in Portland both Monday and Tuesday nights, my breads were less than stellar by the time I dipped into them on Wednesday night. Not wanting to have to turn my homemade bread into croutons and not in the mood for French toast, I needed another recipe.
Then I spotted it in a cookbook full of family recipes that I meant to give my best friend Katrina 10 years ago when she got married (Whoops!): Bread Pudding, courtesy of Grandma Mo.
I never thought of this dish as Croatian. Generally we do not call it Croatian Bread Pudding. We call simply call it Bread Pudding. It wasn’t until tonight when I called my grandma as I chopped apples to make her bread pudding recipe that I discovered that the recipe was courtesy of the Croats. (Incidentally this was also the time I decided to name Grandma Mo’s dish: Croatian Bread Pudding.) Grandma Mo thinks she got the recipe from a Croatian cookbook or junior magazine. She couldn’t quite remember which, but the recipe is definitely, Croatian. This she knows.
Growing up, it was always a real treat to walk into my grandma’s kitchen on any given afternoon after school to the cinnamon-y smell of warm bread pudding right out of the oven. I was always so eager to eat her bread pudding I wouldn’t bother to let it cool down. I regularly suffered from a burned tongue on days when Grandma Mo delighted us all with her bread pudding.
Grandma Mo’s special added touch to the dish? Adding some chopped apples — golden delicious (I asked. Unfortunately after I had already purchased another kind of apple.) And she was always very cognizant of our tastes being careful to put raisins in only half the dish for those grandchildren (me!) who didn’t care for raisins.
This was my first time making Grandma Mo’s recipe, and of course I want my bread pudding to taste exactly like hers. Hers is the best! And so I’ve found the perfect excuse to call her while I cook: I want to glean all the bread pudding making tips that I can from her. (Not that anyone ever needs an excuse to call their Grandma. You can call your Grandma for any reason or no reason at all.)
Of course, Sis and I have come to terms with the fact that we can’t cook quite as good as our grandma. There’s something special that Grandma Mo puts into all her recipes. There must be! Even if we have the exact recipe and procedure written down to the T, somehow we can’t seem to get the dish quite right. (This is especially true when it comes to Slopped-up Spaghetti, and Sis even uses her own canned tomato sauce!) We can come close, but close is as good as it gets. We believe it would be most beneficial to watch Grandma Mo at her craft; however, we see her at most twice a year (and that’s if we’re lucky), so it’s hard to do so.
- 4 c. milk
- About 9 cups cubed, day old bread
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ to ½ c. golden raisins
- 2 apples, skin removed, cored, seeded and cubed
- ¼ c. butter
- ½ c. sugar
- ¼ tsp. salt
- dash nutmeg
- dash cinnamon
- Scald milk. (All my life I never knew what it meant to scald milk. When I asked my grandma tonight, this is how she explained it: heat the milk until it gets that thin layer of skin on top. Then remove the skin and discard.)
- Add butter and raisins. Blend together salt, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add to the milk. Add the eggs and gently mix all ingredients.
- Place bread cubes and apples in a greased deep casserole dish.
- Pour the milk mixture over the bread cubes making sure to cover each cube of bread as you’re pouring.
- Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Bake in a shallow pan filled with water to prevent the sides of the dish from becoming too brown.
- Serve with whip cream, ice-cream, or half and half. Eat fresh out of the oven or pop it in the microwave the day after.
As previously mentioned, I used leftover homemade bread made last weekend in a ratio of approximately 2/3 Buttermilk Bread to 1/3 Brioche. Using entirely Brioche would make for a very decadent bread pudding. So delicious! Perhaps the dish needed a bit more cinnamon (maybe half a teaspoon), but that’s the only thing I would change the next time I make this (other than using all Brioche). I used golden raisins (as does Grandma Mo) and Honey Crisp apples chopped into relatively small cubes. I thought the Honey Crisp apples lended a very complimentary flavor to the dish.
The second time I made this, I baked the dish in a countertop convection toaster oven and the raisins on top got burnt! My guess is this would not happen in a normal oven; my toaster oven tends to darken baked goods more quickly.