Bread Pudding with Raisins and Cranberries
As a kid, there were a few items of food (I'm deliberately refraining from calling them "dish") that I grew up eating. It's not that I always liked them, but they've been synonymous with my childhood and adolescence. Most of these items would present themselves in the form of quick-fix breakfasts, and the one to make its appearance most frequently would be doodh-pauruti-kola (Bread and bananas in milk). I remember my Mother handing me a bowl of the same early in the morning on my examination days, when I would wake up at the crack of dawn (or at least try to) to give one frantic last reading of the syllabus. On days that I would feel hungry at midnight a similar bowl would be plonked in front of me. Now I can't say I was in love with this. It was more of a ritual, a habit. I neither got excited at the prospect of doodh-pauruti-kola, nor detested it. I love breads, hate milk and am neutral towards bananas. And the only reason why I'm writing about it is not because of its taste, but because how intricately it is associated with my life so far.
Bread, cut into cubes: 12-15 slices (the staler the better, even though I used fresh)
Raisins: 3 tbsp
Dried cranberries: 2 tbsp
Eggs: 2 + 2 (only yolks)
Heavy cream: 1 cup
Whole milk: 1 cup
Caster Sugar: 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp
Vanilla extract: 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg, freshly grated: 1/4 teaspoon
Cinnamon powder: 1/4 teaspoon
Butter: 2 tbsp
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
1. Place the bread cubes in a round/square baking pan. Sprinkle the raisins and cranberries on top of it. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the whole eggs and the yolks. In another bowl, combine the heavy cream, sugar, milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Now add the cream mixture into the eggs and whisk constantly to combine fully.
3. Pour this egg-cream mixture over the bread cubes, press the cubes down so that all the bread is soaked completely. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
4. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on the bread, and tuck in the butter in small quantities in between the bread cubes.
5. Brush a sheet of parchment paper with butter and place it, buttered-side down, over the bread. You can also use aluminium foil or cling film to do this.
6. Place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan filled with boiling water enough to submerge half the baking pan. Preheat oven to 180 degree C and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving warm. Add a dollop of whipped cream or creme anglaise (by beating together a couple of egg yolks with some sugar and gradually adding hot milk to it) if you wish.
Baking method adapted from Martha Stewart