Bread pudding is an old fashioned bread-based dessert popular in many countries’ cuisines.
It is made with stale bread and milk or cream, generally containing eggs, a form of fat such as oil, butter and a variety of other ingredients such as sugar, syrup, honey, dried fruit, nuts, as well as spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, or vanilla. The bread is soaked in the liquids, mixed with the other ingredients, and baked.
Bread pudding is widely considered to be a “comfort food.”
Bread, in all its various forms, is the most widely consumed food in the world. In one form or another, bread has been one of the principal forms of food for man from earliest times.
Around 10,000 BC, with the dawn of the Neolithic age and the spread of agriculture, grains became the mainstay of making bread.
There is extensive evidence of bread making in Ancient Egypt in the form of artistic depictions, remains of structures and items used in bread making, and remains of the dough and bread itself.
In Britain, the word “pudding” is often used for any dessert, especially a dessert made with flour and eggs and cooked by steaming, boiling or baking.
The word “pudding” is believed to come from the French boudin, originally from the Latin botellus, meaning “small sausage”, referring to encased meats used in medieval European puddings.
The British claim pudding as part of their culinary heritage.
Bread pudding evolved out of necessity, as a means of using up leftover, stale bread at a time when food was scarce.
Food historians trace bread pudding back to Europe in the early 11th and 12th centuries, and it has been popular in England since the 13th century, when just about every kitchen had a deep bowl called a pudding basin that was used to collect scraps of stale bread. Bread pudding of that era was not nearly as luxurious as the kind we know today.
It was first known as a “poor man’s pudding” as it was made from stale leftover bread that was simply moistened in water, to which a little sugar, spices and other ingredients were added.
Early settlers brought pudding to America, but because wheat was not readily available, they often thickened the mixture with cornmeal instead of bread.
As time passed, the dish evolved to include eggs and take on a custard-like consistency. Chefs continued to modify the dish using different types of breads, fillings, toppings, and sauces. In the 1700s, French and Spanish upper-class immigrants settled in Louisiana, bringing culinary traditions and techniques with them across the Atlantic. Blended with local customs, the resulting mixed offspring and culture of French, Spanish, and African became known as Creole.
The 18th-century English cookbook The Compleat Housewife contains two recipes for baked bread pudding. The first is identified as “A Bread and Butter Pudding for Fasting Days”. To make the pudding a baking dish is lined with puff pastry, and slices of penny loaf with butter, raisins and currants, and pieces of butter are added in alternating layers. Over this is poured thickened, spiced cream and orange blossom water, and the dish is baked in the oven. There is another version of the dish that is simpler, omitting the spices and dried fruits.
In the 18th century, bread pudding gained a reputation as good food for sick people, probably because it was easy to digest.
Today, bread puddings are not as common as they used to be, but they are still frequently consumed in the United Kingdom, the southern United States, Mexico, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Belgium and France.
In the United States, especially Louisiana, bread puddings are typically sweet and served as dessert with a sweet sauce of some sort, such as whiskey sauce, rum sauce, or caramel sauce, but typically sprinkled with sugar and eaten warm in squares or slices. Sometimes, bread pudding is served warm topped with or alongside a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream
In Canada, bread pudding is sometimes made with maple syrup.
In Hong Kong, bread pudding is usually served with vanilla cream dressing.
In Hungary, it is called ‘Máglyarakás’ (“bonfire”) which is baked with whipped egg whites on top of it.
In Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany, black bread is used to make “black bread pudding”.
In Cuba, bread pudding is known as “pudín” and many serve it with a guava marmalade.
In Puerto Rico, There are many variations of bread pudding on the island. Cream cheese with lime zest and guava or coconut-sweet plantain with rum rasians is perhaps the most popular.
The largest bread pudding is 1,424 kg (3,139 lb 6.1 oz) and was achieved by Joseph Dias, Trinity Group, Ranjeet Pandey, Prasad Paul,Saurabh Puri, Sunit Sharma, Manjit Singh (All India) in Panaji, Goa, India, on 2 August 2019.