Something you hear often, usually the day before any holiday when shops might close for an hour or two, “we might need another.” The bread languishes in the bread bin or fridge patiently waiting for the ‘in case’ scenario but is eventually thrown out for the birds or put in the food waste bin.
When money is a bit tight it’s best that the birds find their own food as nature intended and you transform the unwanted bread into something a bit more tasty, to eat yourself.
This is elementary cooking, AlJunioЯ level in fact. It’s a recipe passed from Gran to Mother and on to me, Gran learnt how to cook before the turn of the century in1900 probably when she was ‘in service’ in a from the age of thirteen if she hadn’t learnt from her mother by then.
Mother was more AlJunioЯ ability level than Gran level at cooking but even she couldn’t bugger up this recipe, it’s that simple
Stale bread, about a pound or 400g, about the size of half a large loaf or a small loaf. The type of bread doesn’t matter, brown or white or a mix of both, rolls, crusts, dry bits, odds and ends from the bags; put bits in the freezer until you collect enough to make a pudding.
At the end of the day you can often find a loaf for 5p in a supermarket, buy a few and put them in the freezer if you have space, freezers are more efficient when they are full.
Suet. About two ounces of beef suet. It can be left out if you can’t find any but any authentic Gran recipe will have suet..
Dried Fruit, currants and sultanas, about 5 ounces total, I used 3oz of sultanas and 2oz of currants, suit yourself how you proportion it. Raisins can go in too if you like. You probably have some fruit at the back of the cupboard from when you were ‘going to make that cake’. Dried fruit lasts just about forever, if it’s not got green fur it is before its use-by date, ignore what it says on the packet, it’s why fruit is dried, to make it keep a long time.
Ground Mixed Spice, this is Cinnamon, Coriander, Ginger, Nutmeg and Cloves, mixed and ground into a powder. You’ll find it in tubs in the spice section of the supermarket. Top shelf, nearly out of sight, is where you find the cheap own brand stuff which is just as good as any other. Two heaped teaspoons, or more to taste.
Note Mixed herbs are altogether different, don’t use that.
Eggs, two. No, they don’t have to be organic or free-range, just eggs, this is bread pudding not gourmet fare.
Find a large mixing bowl, rip the bread into bits put it in the bowl and pour on some cold water, depending on the dryness of the bread you could need a pint or more. Some people use milk instead, why I have no idea. Let it soak, when it softens you can slice it through with a knife to get the bread into small pieces. When it is a sludge of small pieces tip it into a colander and allow to drain to get rid of excess water, half an hour or so will do but if you are in a hurry find a plate of the right size and use it to press the mix to squeeze water out.
Tip the bread back into the mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients and stir well to combine them, crack the eggs in and stir some more until you get a thorough mix.
That’s it, nearly, now find an ovenproof dish, casserole, tin or whatever and grease it. What do you mean, what is ‘grease it’? Get some butter, lard, or that yucky yellow spread stuff that people pretend is butter onto some greaseproof paper, bit of plastic bag or till receipt, anything that is to hand, and smear the grease around the baking bowl, tin or whatever so that the baked pudding won’t stick and will release from the container when cooked.
Tip the mix into the baking whatever, flatten it down with a fork, put a pattern on it just like Gran always did and place it into the preheated oven which should be set to about 170-180 degrees if it’s a fan oven, a bit hotter if not.
Bake it for about an hour, it will form a crust on top and rise away from the sides of the baking vessel.
When it’s cool enough to handle put a plate over the thing and tip it upside down to turn out the pudding.
It can be eaten hot or cold, I prefer it cold but if there is any custard or clotted cream around then hot is very good.
All quantities are approximate, neither Gran nor Mother had a set of scales, ever.
You can vary the recipe to suit, some people will use mixed fruit and candied peel, other grate zest from oranges and lemons and stir it in with the fruit. Try it with dried apricots? Some will add two ounces of sugar, I don’t, there is quite enough sweetness from the fruit.
Try something new, you’ve only wasted some old bread and a few cheap ingredients and if its a failure, let the birds eat that.
© Grumpy Angler 2020
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