The humble origins of bread pudding make it the perfect food item for the genteelly poor March family. Oft considered the “poor man’s pudding,” it was and still is a delicious way to use stale, leftover bread. Dating back to the 11th or 12th century, bread pudding was still common among the humble families in the Civil War era. With a grandma who grew up in the Great Depression, this type of meal is a staple in my own family history. However, my grandma simplified the idea to be stale bread covered in milk and eaten with a spoon straight from the glass. Only half of her descendants will even tolerate it.
I found this bread pudding recipe from the cooking blog Live Well Bake Often. If you want a more authentically traditional method, I enjoyed watching this video about Civil War era cooking. I especially enjoyed his old timey whisk made out of twigs.
- 1 loaf day-old challah bread cubed into 1-inch pieces*
- 5 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place the cubed challah bread into the prepared baking dish and spread it around into an even layer. Set aside.
- In a very large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon until fully combined. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread in the prepared baking pan, making sure all of the bread is coated. Allow to sit and soak up the mixture for about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F. Once the 15 minutes is over, place the bread pudding in the oven and bake at 350°F for 45-50 minutes or until the top is set.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.