Basic bread pudding is one of those desserts that has become lost in the shuffle it seems. Truly a comfort food for those of us that remember it from childhood days. Most of my memories are of the classic recipe— a simple mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, flavorings, raisins and of course, some stale bread.
Bread puddings date back centuries. For the vast majority of human history most people could not afford to waste food, so numerous uses for stale bread were invented.
Today, bread puddings are still being made but they are far more luxurious, often using gourmet breads, vanilla beans, bourbon, expensive cheeses and nuts.
Having a German heritage, German recipes and food history are especially interesting to me. It seems in Germany there are two versions of bread pudding, one with apples and the other with sour cherries.
It just so happens I have some of both which has inspired today’s blog recipe. All things are possible with bread pudding so if you don’t like either, just substitute blueberries, raspberries, canned peaches, pears, dried apricots, cranberries or whatever you like because you know its all going to be good!
Apple & Sour Cherry Bread Pudding
Butter an 8 x 8-inch baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together brandy, milk, eggs, sugar, butter, cinnamon, salt & vanilla. Add bread cubes, cherries & apples folding together with a rubber spatula. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, flatten with spatula , making sure fruit is distributed evenly. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for about 15 minutes so bread absorbs all the liquid.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake pudding about 55-65 minutes or until top is golden & center is set. Nice to serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Spring has finally arrived (at least that’s what the calendar says)! It’s time to bring our taste buds out of hibernation and put our winter favorites on the back burner in favor of fresh spring flavors. Nothing says spring more than the taste of lemon. Fabulously versatile, lemons create a zesty, fresh flavor perfect for some spring zing.
I believe Lemon Meringue Pie entered the mainstream culture in the 1940’s and remained popular through the 50′ and 60’s. It was definitely one of those desserts that most men of that time, including my dad, just loved.
In doing a little research on the subject, it seems in 1951, the Sunkist lemon producers came up with a ‘new idea’. It was a Lemon Cheesecake pie in a graham wafer crust. It was advertised to be quick, easy, inexpensive as well as delicious!
In March of 1959, the Family Circle magazine published a recipe for a Lemon ‘Pudding’ Cheesecake pie. This version required no cooking and basically had only about four ingredients. The idea appears to have been one from ‘General Foods’ using their Jell-o Instant Lemon Pudding mix. It hardly seems it could be much easier than that.
In the spring of 2004, I saw a recipe on kraftcanada.com for a more current remake of this recipe. Of course it takes longer to make and uses twice the amount of ingredients but sounded real good.
Just for fun, I decided to make the 1959 version with the addition of some lemon zest for a more vibrant lemon flavor.
'Retro' Lemon Pudding Cheesecake Pie
In a bowl, combine graham crumbs, sugar & melted margarine. Mix well. Reserve 1/4 cup of mixture for topping. Press remainder on bottom & up sides of an 8-inch pie pan or spread evenly on the bottom of an 8-inch spring form pan.
In a bowl, soften cream cheese, blend with 1/2 cup milk. Add remaining milk, lemon zest & pudding powder mix. Beat on low, just until well mixed, about 1 minute (do not overbeat). Pour filling into graham crust. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 of crumbs. Chill at least 1 hour.
- Just a little side note -- On April 16, 2016 I had published a blog which featured a No-Bake Lemon Cheesecake. It was one of the first cheesecakes my mother made. It used lemon jell-o powder and was extremely light tasting. We loved it!
- I tried making the filling with 1% milk & light cream cheese as well as adding some food color to brighten it up, all adjustments worked out real good. Definitely made it a guilt-free dessert!
Germany’s love of poppy seed is no secret, you can find it in everything from sweet to savory foods. For many German and central eastern Europeans, poppy seeds are a symbol of wealth, the tiny seeds representing coins. They figure prominently at Christmas and New Year’s, expressing hoped-for prosperity in the coming year.
Poppy seed cultivation dates back to 1400 BC. Early Egyptians pressed the seed into cooking oil whereas the the ancient Romans mixed them with wine and honey for Olympic athletes or home use. It should be made clear though, that this spice is not narcotic because opium is found in the pod and not in the seed itself. The dried pod loses any of it’s opiate properties long before the seeds are harvested.
‘Mohn Kaffee Rolle’ is considered a nostalgic German Christmas pastry much like Stollen is. One thing for certain, in keeping with true European tradition, poppy seed is added in such large quantities that the dough sometimes looks black.
When I recall my mother’s poppy seed roll, it was never dry. It seemed like a vanilla custard with ‘wall to wall’ poppy seeds in it. There were numerous recipes in her file — cake, roll, twists, cookies, strudel, pudding — everything and anything poppy seed! This recipe seems unique in that it uses a ‘Zwillingsteig’ (zwilling=twin, teig=dough) dough, a rich, moist dough used in the past when making cakes with fresh fruit. The dough is a combination of yeasted and shortcrust dough kneaded together. It seems a little involved but is well worth it in the end. One more special ‘taste of a memory’ before the holiday season is to far behind us.
'Mohn Kaffee Rolle' - Poppy Seed Coffee Roll
A unique, very tender pastry, slightly sweet with loads of poppy seeds!
In a bowl, place all shortcrust ingredients & quickly knead together until well combined. Shape into a disk & set aside. Dough can be made a day ahead, wrapped in plastic wrap & refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before combining with yeast dough.
In a small dish, sprinkle yeast over lukewarm water, add 1 tsp sugar stirring until dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes. Sift flour with 3 Tbsp sugar & salt. Cut in butter with pastry blender. Add lukewarm milk, egg & vanilla to yeast mixture, then gradually add to flour mixture & blend.
Press dough out to about 1 inch thickness & lay disk of shortcrust on top. Knead together by hand until fully combined, about 2 minutes. Shape into a ball & place in a greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel, let raise in a warm, draft free spot for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Poppy Seed Filling
Grind poppy seeds. In a small saucepan, combine poppy seeds, sugar, semolina & salt. Add butter & milk. Place over medium high heat; stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately & set aside to cool. When mixture is lukewarm, stir in egg, vanilla, rum & walnuts. Set aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When dough has risen, punch down & roll out on a lightly floured surface about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickness.
Spread with cooled poppy seed filling leaving a 1 inch border on each of the shorter ends. Brush shorter ends with egg wash. Starting from shorter end, roll dough, jelly-roll style, into a tight log. Cut into 2 loaf pan lengths.
With a sharp knife, cut each log of dough in half lengthwise. Carefully twist the two pieces of dough together & place into prepared pans. Brush dough with egg wash, cover with greased plastic wrap & let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 F. When dough has risen, brush again with egg wash & bake about 40 minutes or until golden brown. When loaves have fully cooled, whisk together powdered sugar, water & lemon zest until smooth. Brush glaze over loaves & allow to set before slicing.
- Unless you can find freshly ground poppy seeds, it is best to buy the whole seeds, store them in the freezer and grind them right before using. Because of their high oil content, the seeds easily turn rancid.
- Good poppy seeds smell slightly 'musty' and have a nutty flavor - not bitter or harsh.