This amazingly moist, butter-free bread pudding is a celebratory staple in our home, a legacy of Marco’s Indian-French heritage.
Marco’s ancestors came from Pondicherry in India, one of only two French colonies in what was by-and-large a bastion of the British Empire. As a result, it is never odd to see authentic French dishes sitting side-by-side with Indian curries on his family dining table.
As generations passed, most of the old French recipes fell by the wayside, but one stood the test of time – his great-grandmother’s bread pudding. It’s a good thing Marc sat his aunt down to get the recipe from her – no easy feat since a lot of her cooking, as with most traditional cooking for that matter, is down more to muscle memory and gut instinct rather than specific measurements and recipes.
Usually a Christmas staple, the pudding is such a favourite of Marc’s that he demands (and always gets) it for every birthday, the brat. Darsh has since committed the recipe to memory and has perfected it to the point that Marc is not even needed anymore – and the legacy of the pudding lives on!
- 1/2 loaf of white sandwich bread, crusts cut off
- 1/2 can of condensed milk
- 1/4 cup of brandy
- 1/2 cup of halved cashew nuts, roasted
- 1/4 cup of dried fruits (we use raisins and dried cranberries)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 tbs vanilla essence
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Sugar (enough to liberally coat 20-inch baking pan)
- Coat base of 20-inch baking pan with sugar. Add a little water and place over low heat.
- Do not stir, but wait with eyes glued to the pan until sugar darkens to a dark amber colour. Quickly remove from heat and stir sugar till evenly mixed.
- Tip baking pan from side-to-side till sugar evenly coats the bottom and sides, leaving around half an inch of clear space at the top.
- Leave in water bath to cool. While cooling, prepare pudding batter by soaking bread in hot water. Once bread has soaked water and has softened, squeeze out as much of the water as possible from bread.
- In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients starting by beating the room temperature egg. Add condensed milk, vanilla, and brandy.
- Combine with bread and salt and mix until just incorporated.
- Add cashews, dried fruits and mix with wooden spoon until combined. Pour into prepared sugar-coated baking pan.
- In oven pre-heated to 180 degrees celsius, bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Start checking pudding after 45 minutes. The pudding is considered ready once the top is lightly browned and a wooden skewer inserted into the centre of the pudding comes out clean.
- Leave to cool on wire rack. After 10 minutes, flip it over a large tray or serving dish. Leave to cool completely, cover the pudding and let cool in fridge, preferably overnight.
- Before serving, pour some brandy all over the pudding and flambe.
Try this riff!
If cherries or blueberries are in season, use em! Darsh cooks them down in brandy, lemon zest and juice, and sugar, just long enough for liquid to thicken and berries to become soft but not mushy. Add some of the berries and 1/4 cup of yummy cooking liquid into the pudding batter. Just don’t forget to reduce the amount of condensed milk! You can even drizzle more of the berry sauce over each pudding slice when serving.
For a more Christmassy feel, replace dried raisins with sliced candied ginger.