Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cuban Bread Pudding (Pudin de Pan)

I was asked to bring dessert to a large Cuban-themed party. Given the historical centrality of sugar production to the Cuban economy, it is no surprise that desserts are popular and ubiquitous.

Web research revealed a number of interesting dishes. Many are adaptations of recipes brought by the Spanish (including flan and brazo gitano) and others were developed locally as simple mixtures of sugar and fruit (such as dulce de guayaba, dulce de coco and rapsadura). I chose pudin de pan for its simplicity and because it is easy to increase the recipe to feed a crowd. The dish is a type of bread pudding and variations are also served throughout the Caribbean, especially in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Like other bread puddings it is a wonderful way to use up stale bread, though I must admit I bought fresh bread for this version.

This recipe contains a generous helping of fruit preserve which is widely used as a filling for desserts. In Cuba, jams are made from mango, guava or other locally produced tropical fruits. I used a jar of watermelon and pink grapefruit preserve, the final jar of several that I purchased in France two summers ago.

4 cups whole milk or light cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
peel of one lemon, grated
1/3 cup brandy, dark rum or cognac (optional)
1 loaf of bread, crust removed, cut into one-inch squares
4 eggs, well beaten
3/4 cup raisins, soaked overnight in water and drained
1/2 cup almond slices, toasted (optional)
1 cup watermelon and pink grapefruit preserve

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, gently heat milk/cream, butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt, lemon peel and alcohol. Do not boil this mixture.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. In a large bowl mix bread with eggs. Add milk mixture, raisins and almonds. Soak the bread for 5 minutes.
4. Pour into a well-greased 9x13 inch glass or metal baking dish.
5. Distribute jam dollops into the mixture.
6. Bake for one hour or until the pudding is browned and set.


Anonymous said...

"Dollops" is one of my favourite words in the English language.

-- P

Anonymous said...

I have been lurking on your blog for a year, and this is my first comment - loved the Pudin de Pan! It was delicious hot and puffed from the oven and also cold for breakfast the next morning...

Anonymous said...

Hello I just wanted let you know that from the first time made this my family and friends love it!! This is my go to recipe for left over bread...any bread. Thank you for sharing.