bread pudding

Enchanting Eats

February, 2011

Bringing Imbolc to the Table

In February, we celebrate Midwinter. It is the time that we see the first hints of spring as Old Man Winter says farewell. The snow is melting, and birds are returning. Some like to focus on fire and candles during this time, as it is a symbol of the sun. Spicy hot foods are entirely appropriate as are foods that are cooked by fire–baked, roasted, or even flambed. In the same nature, sun-dried fruits and vegetables honor the sun. Others find themselves honing in on the physical signs of spring through seeds, sprouts, early spring vegetables, and dairy products. It is also common to use up the last of winter’s bounty, namely root vegetables. Look inward to see what connects the most with you.

One way to honor this time is by making bread pudding. Bread baked with fire. Milk nodding to animals in gestation. Raisins dried by the sun.

I recommend a chewy bread with lots of texture for this recipe. I prefer to use a Sourdough or Tuscan bread. You may use other dried fruits as well, such as cranberries, currants, and diced apples. I have also made this with a variety of nuts. Walnuts or pecans are a great accompaniment.

If you are gluten free, try a rice pudding by swapping the bread for 3 cups of cooked rice. Omit the eggs and cook over medium heat in a saucepan until creamy. Vegans can easily substitute with soy milk, margarine, and an egg replacer.

Ingredients

One standard-sized loaf of bread

3/4 cup raisins

3 cups scalded milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 Tbsp melted butter

1 cup brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

dash of salt

3 eggs

Directions

1. Soak raisins, or your choice of fruit, in enough water to cover until plump. Drain.

2. Tear or cut bread into bite-sized chunks. Toss with raisins and place in a casserole dish.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients until well combined.

4. Pour mixture over bread and raisins. You may need to add in parts, as the bread soaks up the mixture.

5. Bake at 350 F for 45-60 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving, or serve room temperature.

Notes: Breads vary in terms of moisture. If you have liquid leftover, no problem. If you run out, you can make a half batch of the mixture or, in a pinch, just make a simple syrup with brown sugar and water. This dish is wonderful served hot or cooled. Whipped cream, ice cream, or a rum sauce all make a wonderful topping, but it can certainly stand on its own.

Enjoy and blessed be!