Nan’s Bread Pudding

My love of cooking as been almost lifelong. Some of my earliest memories are of standing in my nan’s kitchen, in her flat in South East London, watching her bustle around her tiny workspace, with a simple 4 ring gas cooker with eye level grill. From this small cooker, she could produce a christmas meal for 20 family members, amazing never ending stews packed full of dumplings, midweek roast dinners….

Everything was piping hot, she never used a microwave, and sometimes it seemed like she could magic up a meal with only the smallest amount of ingredients that she had in the cupboards or fridge.

One of my most favourite memories is watching her make a bread pudding. The smells of the mixed spice and fruits cooking slowly with the mashed up old bread still take me back to being a little boy, watching this marvel work her magic. So nan, this one is definitely for you.

For this you will need:

500g of stale bread (you don’t need to be exact)
500g of Dried mixed fruit
300ml of water
300ml of milk (Semi or full fat)
3 teaspoons of mixed spice
2 large eggs, beaten
140g Demerara Sugar plus extra for sprinkling
100g Melted Butter

Now, I have added the measurements of the ingredients, but I NEVER remember my nan EVER weighing stuff out, especially for this recipe. It was always, a chunk of bread, a couple of handfuls of fruit, a splash of milk. This was her way, and has become mine. So if you think the measurements dont allow for enough fruit, or its too much sugar, please just change them!

The first thing to do is tear up the bread into small(ish) chunks. Place this into a large bowl, and add the fruit, milk and water. You need to now get your hands in there and squish it up so all the bread is getting nice and wet. Leave it for about 10 minutes to soak. You should at this stage, turn on your oven and let it heat up to 160c. (Gas mark 3). Once soaked, I like to add my secret ingredient, nan would roll in her grave as she wasn’t a fan of it… a few pieces of roughly chopped stem ginger. I love it, and I think it adds a nice dimension to the dish.

If you are going to add stem ginger put it in the bowl now, add the beaten eggs and sugar and mix well. leave to stand while you are gently melting your butter. Once it is melted, pour over the mixture, give it another stir and then pour into a lightly buttered tin. If you are using a good non stick tin there is no need to line it with parchment, but if you know your tin is a bit sticky, then I would place some on the bottom just to help you tip the pudding out.

Now, this, my friends is where I let you down….. I have no idea what size tin, just pick one where the bread mixture fill it just up to the top. DON’T use a flat bottomed tin, as it will leak during the cooking process.

Once you have filled the tin, and smoothed down the top, sprinkle some more sugar on top. This will create a delicious crisp sweet top.

Now cook this in your oven for about 1.5 hours. Check it after an hour. If the top is catching, place some foil over the top. Once cooked it should be nice and crispy on top and still a little bit squishy if you press lightly. Be warned, the sugar and fruit will make this very hot to the touch!

Leave it in the tin for 15 minutes and then tip out onto a wire cooling rack and leave to cool. I like to cut a square off while it is still hot, (chefs privileges) but leave the rest to cool down. Once cool, cut into squares (or slices if using a round tin). You will see when you slice up the pudding it will have a crusty top and sides but the centre will still be soft and a little gooey!

Enjoy this with hot custard, or ice cream, or just a chunk on its own with a cup of tea.

Thank you for reading, I hope your baking is going well!