My earliest memory of bread pudding was when I returned to Jamaica for the first time since migrating to the States. While I don’t remember helping my aunt make it, I certainly remember helping myself to a hefty slice and devouring it.
Recently, I got a hold of a recipe for bread pudding and have made it at least three times since then; each time I made it, I tweaked the recipe slightly. I feel like bread pudding is one of those foods where once you have the basics – bread and a custard mixture (consists of milk, eggs, and sugar), you can modify the recipe however you’d like and include any variety of add-in’s.
For this recipe, I added in walnuts and raisins. However, these were no ordinary raisins. I used raisins from something Jamaicans traditionally bake with at Christmas time – a batch of “fruits” (mixture of currants, raisins, prunes, and sometimes cherries). These bad boys have been soaking in a mixture of J. Wray and Nephew white rum and port wine for a while (you wouldn’t believe me if I told you how long, but trust me it’s been a long time). Besides the add-in’s, I also modified this recipe to use heavy whipping cream (a modification I first made while baking bread pudding in Italy). I’ve found that using panna (the equivalent of heavy whipping cream in the States) in addition to whole milk gives the bread pudding an even richer, creamier taste.
Prep time: 20 mins (raisin soaking time – 1 hr)
Cook time: 1 – 1.5 hr
Serving Size: 12 people
1 cup raisins
¼ – ½ cup mixture of J. Wray and Nephew white rum and port wine
1 ½ loaf French bread, about 24 ounces (preferably day old vs. fresh, but fresh can be used also)
2.5 cup whole milk
2 cup heavy cream
¼ cup water (to dilute the heavy cream slightly)
4 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
1 cup chopped walnuts (soaked overnight to soften if you’d like)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened (to grease the baking pan)
1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
2. In a small bowl, pour the rum and port wine over the raisins and stir to combine. Let them soak for at least an hour or more. Set aside.
3. Cut (or break up with your fingers) the bread into 1-inch cubes. Pour the milk and diluted heavy cream into a large bowl and add the bread cubes. Use your hands to press all the bread into the milk and cream until all pieces are covered.
4. Add eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg to a separate medium bowl.
5. Beat the egg mixture until thoroughly combined and pour it over the bread mixture. Then add the rum and wine-soaked raisins, and the walnuts. Stir very gently with a wooden spoon, making sure the bread pieces don’t break apart.
6. Take softened butter using a piece of foil or plastic wrap and spread it around a 9×13 baking pan, making sure to coat the sides and bottom.
7. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the pan and bake for 1 – 1.5 hours*. When done, the pudding should be slightly brown, and the edges should start to pull away from the sides. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.
*Tip: If the bread pudding is still a bit wet in the middle, turn off the oven and let it sit in the oven for 15 minutes before removing it to cool.
Whether you’re eating this bread pudding by itself or with your favorite ice cream, I’m sure you’ll savor every bite. Enjoy!