As a kid, I always loved my maternal grandmother’s bread pudding! She wasn’t much of a cook or baker, but she mastered this particular dessert dish. She made it in a very old fashioned way, different than most bread puddings nowadays (like the ones below). Hers was made in a large glass bowl with lots of custard on the bottom, and just crunchy cinnamon sugar or nutmeg sugar toast baked on the top, partially soaked with the custard. She made it like her homemade rice pudding, in the oven in a hot water bath. I never recall her adding any kind of sauces to it. There was plenty of custard, so it didn’t need it. Plus, my grandmother would never have made a sweet rum or brandy cream sauce. She rarely even had a bottle of beer in her house.
My grandmother’s bread pudding was not quick. It was also not particularly diet-friendly. Since I’ve been on a weight-loss journey these past weeks, I thought I’d share one that is fairly low guilt and is ready to eat in as little as 45 minutes. It calls for sugar substitute to keep the calories and sugars low. It also comes out just great using skim milk. As for the bread, I used a low calorie high fiber white bread, which lowered the calories further and made for comparatively low net carbs per serving. Other neutral flavor or slightly sweet soft crust breads could be used.
The following base version 1 recipe (with blueberries) was shared by a friend on a weight loss forum. He has given me permission to post his recipe. The second (with cinnamon and rum raisins) and third (almond lovers) versions are ones I created, that both turned out great! Each recipe yields 4 generous servings. That’s more than enough in my household since I don’t want desserts around too long. I confess to topping my slices with a little light whipped topping, but they didn’t need it.
Yields – 4 servings
Version 1 – Blueberry Bread Pudding (pictured above before baking)
- Cooking spray (plain/canola/butter)
- 5 oz (140 grams) soft white bread, slightly stale or barely toasted, then medium cubed (See note at the very bottom)
- 1 cup (150 g) fresh blueberries
- 1 cup (236 ml) fat free or low fat milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or ½ to 1, 9 gram packet Dr. Oetker vanilla sugar)
- 2/3 cup Splenda granulated (or the equivalent sweetness of other non-sugar sweetener, which is the sweetness of 2/3 cup regular sugar). Must be kind that can be cooked/baked (e.g. not aspartame).
Weigh the bread, since bread slices vary. Let bread get a bit stale for several hours, or put in an oven or toaster oven and heat until barely toasted (no browning). Cut into medium-sized cubes (or squares).
Pre-heat oven to 325° F (163° C). Spray a small rectangular or 8” X 8” square (20-23 cm square) glass or ceramic casserole/baking dish with cooking spray. Place the bread cubes into the casserole.
Pour in the blueberries and evenly distribute them among the bread cubes.
Blend the milk, eggs, vanilla extract and sweetener in a blender (or by using a whisk). Blend/whisk until fully mixed and frothy. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the bread cubes. Then, using a spoon or your fingers, ensure that all of the bread gets moistened.
Place the casserole into the pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the custard has fully set, but not dried out. Remove and cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. If desired, serve with a little light whipped topping.
Version 2 – Traditional Style Bread Pudding with Rum Raisins
- ½ tsp cinnamon, plus a little extra for sprinkling on the top
- 2 Tablespoons raisins soaked in rum (I like dark rum) for at least 2 hours, then drained (Why not reserve the rum?). Raisins should be measured before soaking. They will swell.
See version 1 instructions above. After the bread cubes are stale, put them in the cooking sprayed dish and then sprinkle and toss them with ½ tsp (or more) cinnamon. Arrange the bread cubes evenly in the dish. Eliminate the blueberries from version 1. Instead, sprinkle the bread cubes evenly with the raisins that have been soaked in rum (first drain from rum and use rum for other purpose, like drinking). Continue as directed with the rest of the recipe version 1, lightly sprinkling the top with a little bit more cinnamon just before putting into the oven. If you are a nutmeg fan (I’m not), you can use a little bit of that spice in this version instead of the full amount of cinnamon.
Version 3 – Almond Bread Pudding
- ½ tsp vanilla extract, plus ½ tsp almond extract, instead of 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, for topping
Follow the recipe version 1, but eliminate the blueberries. Instead of using 1 tsp vanilla extract, use only ½ tsp vanilla, but also ½ tsp almond extract. Before putting the dish in the oven, sprinkle sliced almonds on top.
Enjoy any of the above “Lightened” Bread Pudding versions with a nice cup of coffee or espresso drink.
Nutrition information will vary according to bread, sweetener and other ingredients.
Can you think of other possible versions? You can get creative with different fruit, extracts, nuts, etc.