I’ve mentioned a few times that I struggle with quantities, particularly in the face of hosting guests. It would seem that in preparation for the holiday functions we hosted, I decided (through the fog of illness) that having enough bread in the house was the key. Not just frozen sandwich bread, but high quality bakery bread. The disheartening (and probably most wonderful) thing about good bakery bread is that it peaks, just like a bottle of wine. It has a moment when it’s at its very best and every moment after that is one step closer to that tasty loaf becoming squirrel food, or excellent bread fight ammunition (ow). Needless to say despite having a LOT of guests over the several days of the holiday season, we were unable to consume all the bread I bought for the occasions. And so it sat.
It sat so long that my omnivorous dog has begun to ignore it. It sat so long that it made a thud when moved. It sat so long I could no longer tear it with my hands or cut it with a bread knife. Yeah. That’s stale bread. What to do to avoid wasting all that previously wonderful bread? Yes, I could give it to the squirrels, but frankly between what they get from the bird feeder and what they steal from my garden, I think I’ve done my bit with them, so I wondered. Can I make a bread pudding without eggs and butter? Can I make a bread pudding with bread I can’t even tear? Does anybody but me eat bread pudding in this house? Three questions is enough for me. An investigation ensued, and it became clear pretty quickly that one can indeed make bread pudding without the dairy products that make my life unpleasant. Chef Joey’s recipe became my starting point.
Next problem: the rocks formerly known as bread. Mr. Little Sis thought adding a little water to the crust and microwaving them might make the bread bricks easier to manipulate. I couldn’t quite get my head around softening the bread that would then need to be staled again for good bread pudding – it’s ready just as it is; why would I soften it? And so, I looked for a tool based answer to my problem. I am lucky that Mr. Little Sis did some time at culinary school and that time prompted him to add some seriously great knives to our little block. As we considered the problem of the intensely hard bread before us, he reached over to the block and pulled out the one that I like the least, mostly because when it gets used it is on something that I don’t eat and think is gross and there’s a loud noise that goes with it – a bad combo for me. But… if it can help with bread pudding and preventing wasted food, I’d be happy to reconsider. Mr. Little Sis to the rescue…
Next problem: the question of the micro-local popularity of bread pudding. When I lived in the dorms at my central Pennsylvania college, I waited for the days that they served bread pudding in the dining hall. Bread pudding had not been featured in my childhood, so it was a new and thoroughly delightful surprise. My husband, having stayed in Maryland where bread pudding is apparently not a thing, had no such attachment to the dish and the kids? It’s pretty much always a 50/50 proposition there. The result? 100% approval of the bread pudding with caramel sauce as dessert, 100% approval of leftover bread pudding with maple syrup for breakfast (genius and awesome).
With all that fanfare, I’m guessing you’d like to know how I did this, so here we go:
Vegan Bread Pudding Two Ways (GF Option)
- 5 cups stale bread, cubed (we used whole grain bread and it was superb, if you avoid gluten, use gluten free bread)
- 6 T coconut oil
- 3 flax eggs
- 2 1/2 c almond milk (or whatever kind you like)
- 1/2 c maple syrup
- 1 1/2 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t nutmeg
- 1/4 salt
- 1/2 t vanilla
- 1 c toasted pecans (pan, oven, 350, 10 minutes or until you smell them and panic)
- 4-6 c boiling water
Caramel Sauce for Dessert
- 1 c pitted dates
- 3/4 c water
- 1T + 1t nut butter
- 3T almond milk (or whatever kind you like)
- dash vanilla
Topping for Breakfast
- splash maple syrup
- chopped nuts
Prepare flax eggs (1T flax + 2 1/2 T water for each “egg”). Preheat oven to 350. Place milk in pan on stove to warm to just below boiling. While milk is warming, measure coconut oil into medium or larger sized bowl. Measure spices and maple syrup into small bowl. Place bread cubes mixed with toasted nuts into two loaf pans. Place the loaf pans in a large baking dish. (Other pans would be fine. The trick here is that they must sit in a larger pan full of hot water, so I chose loaf pans).
Put at least 4 c water on to boil, preferably in a kettle so you can pour easily, but if no kettle, just be careful. While waiting on water, assemble the bread pudding. It is advisable to assemble the bread pudding as close to your oven as possible. You’ll understand why in a minute. When milk is just beginning to bubble, pour it over the coconut oil and stir to melt. Add flax eggs to maple syrup and spice bowl. Whisk to combine. Slowly add to milk/coconut oil bowl and whisk to combine. Pour 1/2 of the liquid into each of the loaf pans. If you’ve not yet moved near the oven, please do it now. Add boiling water to the BOTTOM pan (in my case a pyrex casserole baker). Have someone open the oven for you and CAREFULLY carry the pan and slide it into the oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until browned as you’d like on top. When you press on top, you might see a little liquid bubble through the cracks, but it shouldn’t be a lot. Let sit in pan for at least 10 minutes so it can set up.
For caramel dessert sauce, add all ingredients to a power blender and go. Yes, please use a power blender rather than a food processor. Trust me on that one. Blend until smooth and pour on plate and on top of bread pudding.
For bread pudding breakfast, reheat bread pudding and drizzle maple syrup on top. Add raisins or nuts as you like.
What could be better than upcycling insanely stale bread? Eating bread pudding for breakfast, that’s what. Delish!
For more healthy baked goods and ideas about how to save money on food, check out our E-Book:Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals. Eat well, be well friends!