When I made Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day, I wasn't expecting as large of a loaf as it made. We ended up eating half of it and then it just sat there. As it got more and more dried out, I decided that I would go ahead and break it into chunks, finish drying it in the oven, and turn it into a bread pudding. I got as far as drying the chunks (I tried to cut it into cubes, but it had hardened too much at that point). So the bread chunks have been sitting in a baggie on my microwave for quite a while.
Today I received in the mail a cookbook from Taste of Home that features slow-cooker recipes, one of which was Raisin Bread Pudding. I knew I had found the recipe for my chunks of hardened soda bread! So instead of using 8 slices of bread and 1/4 cup raisins, as called for in the recipe, I substituted my dried soda bread, which already had raisins.
Now, Jeff has had a lifelong fear of ever trying bread pudding. For him, the thought of a soggy pan of sweetened bread concoction was never appealing. But Jeff's reaction to this, his reluctant first try of bread pudding, was a somewhat surprised, "It's good!" Success!! (Note: bread pudding isn't really soggy, per se, it's moist and mildly firm on the inside, and golden and more dry on top. It's quite delicious!)
Irish Soda Bread Pudding
About 1/2 loaf Irish Soda Bread
2 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
2 tbsp. flour
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Cut or tear the soda bread into chunks or cubes. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake in very low oven until the bread is dry. Let cool.
Place the bread cubes in a greased slow cooker. In a bowl, beat the eggs and milk; stir in the sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Pour over the bread cubes; stir. cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low; cook for 3-4 hours or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees.
Just before serving, melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the flour until smooth. Gradually add the water, sugar, and vanilla. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with warm bread pudding.
I was excited when I read the sauce part of the recipe. It's just a white sauce, only with water and sugar instead of milk! I've been wondering how to do a basic dessert sauce based on white sauce, and someone went and figured it out for me! It's smooth and sweet, without being overwhelmingly so. I'm going to try this sauce on various other desserts, such as ice cream, fruits, and plain cakes. I'm sure it could be changed around using cinnamon, or various extracts like almond or lemon.
Update: I added this to my list of breakfast recipes as well. I figured, hey - it's got milk and eggs, and a flavor similar to cinnamon rolls or coffee cake. So we heated up the leftovers this morning for a delicious, if somewhat rich, breakfast. Yum!