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Comfort Food Classic Bread Pudding

What comes to your mind when you think of comfort food? For me, it’s the warm scent of something baking … a soft and soothing texture … and a sweet, familiar flavor that brings back memories. And in every respect, bread pudding fits the bill.

If you’re old enough to have parents or grandparents who remember the depression years, you probably remember bread pudding; it was a tasty and economical way to use up stale bread at a time when “waste not, want not” was an important part of keeping a household going. My own grandmother collected what she called “odds and ends” of bread (the last slice or two in a loaf, leftover piece from the breadbasket at dinner, etc.) and kept them in a paper bag tucked into the back of her breadbox. And when she had enough accumulated, she’d make them into a bread pudding. She served it warm in big bowls, topped with a creamy custard sauce.

I can vividly recall walking through her door and being hit with a wave of that sweet vanilla scent! To this day a dish of bread pudding with custard sauce warms my heart as well as my stomach, but because I’m committed to a low-sugar diet program I can’t use my grandmother’s exact recipes. No problem, there are much varieties today in comfort food recipes – here’s a “lite” version of this great dessert that delivers all the aroma, flavor, and comfort of the original!

Sugar Free Bread Pudding

  • 1 loaf’s worth of bread (firm bread like French or Italian bread works great, but ordinary sliced bread will work too! And you can mix types of bread as well. Just use up what you have on hand – that’s part of the magic of bread pudding)
  • 1 quart of low fat milk or lite soymilk
  • 3 eggs
  • granulated sweetener equal to 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ cake pan or large baking dish. Cut or tear bread into even sized pieces (chunks about 1-1/2″ work well). Put bread cubes into a large bowl and pour milk over it. Mix thoroughly (using your hands works well for this!) until the bread starts to crush up and loose its shape. Add the eggs, sweetener, vanilla, melted margarine, and raisins and continue to mix until all ingredients are even incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and bake until firm (usually about 50 minutes, but start checking at 45 minutes. Serve warm or cold, topped with the custard sauce below.

Sugar Free Custard Sauce

  • 2 cups nonfat milk or lite soymilk
  • 2 eggs
  • sweetener equal to 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat milk to just below boiling in medium saucepan. In a small bowl beat together the eggs, sweetener, arrowroot or cornstarch, and salt. Gradually add scalded milk to the ingredients in the bowl, stirring constantly. When all milk has been incorporated, return mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened and coats a spoon. Remove from heat and beat in extracts. Can be served warm, or you can chill it in the fridge until ready to serve.

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