Handed Down Bread Pudding

There are many ways to make bread pudding and just as many different names for it. My version is one I grew up with, made by my Grandmother, who used left over bread crusts and the NEVER eaten by us kids, heels of loaves. I can remember gorging myself on it’s spongy goodness until I felt sick. This recipe was passed down to my Grandmother from  her Mother, who living through 2 wartime experiences didn’t let anything go to waste, especially food. This would have been quite a treat with it’s luxurious ingredients that we take for granted today. Households had to get by with minimal amounts of  basics and often went without all together. Most of us don’t think twice about not having access to food and such things as bread crusts or stale bread are just tossed into the bin without regard. Bread pudding always reminds me of my Grandmother’s war stories and what it must have been like to NOT have access to basic food staples. Another reason of course, is that bread pudding is simply delicious and for added flavour I use pure maple syrup instead of granulated sugar.

Rationing has taken place throughout history. During WW1, the United Kingdom declared a blockade of the North Sea and in retaliation Germany sunk ships carrying military equipment or food to the United Kingdom. In about two years, the U.K had only six weeks of food left and began to ration its food supplies.

Canada also introduced a food rationing program during WW2. Applications were filled out and war ration books were then mailed to households with stamps and coupons for specific allotments, extra coupons were included in case other items were added to the restricted list. Initially, each person was allowed to buy up to 12 ounces of sugar a week along with a limited amount of coffee and tea. By the Spring the sugar allotment had been reduced to 8 ounces per week. Sharing, trading or selling the coupons was illegal until 1943, but people were allowed to save their own allotments for special events. By year’s end, butter was added to the ration list, with a maximum allotment of a 1/2 pound per person. The first war set of ration books had an expiry date of March 31, 1943. Inflation was not a problem on items as the government set the prices for ALL rationed goods.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes


8 to 10 slices stale bread (egg or white work best)
4 eggs
3 cups milk or (2 cups milk, 1 cup water)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 maple syrup or granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
sprinkle of cinnamon


Pre-heat oven to 375 F. To begin tear bread into small pieces (about 1 inch) and set aside. In a large bowl whisk eggs until beaten. Add milk/water, vanilla and maple syrup, mix together. In a 9″ x 9″ baking dish place a layer of bread pieces. Sprinkle with raisins. Repeat until all the bread and raisins have been layered. Slowly pour egg mixture over bread pressing down with a fork to compact as you go. Let stand for 20 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed by the bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon and place into oven. Let bake for 1 hour or until top and sides are brown and there is no soft center. Pudding should be dense and heavy and no longer resemble bread pieces.

Yield 6 to 8 servings

FOOTNOTE: Bread pudding may be served with a custard sauce or hard sauce if preferred. You can make custard from scratch but it is tricky. I just mix up some of my favorite custard powder and viola…no fuss, no muss. For hard sauce add a few tablespoons of rum and you’re good to go.