Trying out a Second World War pudding
My eldest daughter has been studying the Second World War at school. And as part of that whole shebang, she’s ended up with a few copies of original Ministry of Food War Cookery Leaflets, which were produced by the government to help people with rationing.
We decided to make one of the recipes – an American bread pudding – the other weekend. And wow, it was very interesting.
First, of course, it’s a great way for kids and adults to have a go at eeking out your food and taste a wartime dish under rationing.
But it was also interesting from a health point of view. The recipe involved literally a scrape of butter and a tablespoon of sugar – it was quite astonishing really. Until you see it for yourself, it can be difficult to picture. And yet it made a dessert for five.
In health terms, this is an amazingly virtuous dish, especially when you think of what goes into a modern day bread and butter pudding, packed with so much sugar and butter that it could make your eyes pop.
As for the taste of this Second World War dessert… well, if you’re hoping for a creamy, super-sweet, I-need-to-crack-open-my-belt kind of dessert, this of course isn’t it.
But you know, it still tastes like a pudding. The first time we made it, I did the plain version and we all felt we had to spread a little jam on the pud at the table – a variation idea suggested at the bottom of the recipe – as it definitely didn’t taste sweet enough.
So the second time round, I followed another of their variation ideas and added raisins before cooking, and that tasted better. It became like a low-fat, low-carb bread and butter pud. In fact, we all kind of liked it apart from my middle daughter, who hates any kind of bread and butter pudding, so doesn’t really count in this straw poll.
So for an easy weekday pud, it could work.
I had to tweak the recipe – after all, there isn’t much call for reconstituted eggs these days. Instead, I whisked a whole egg into the warm milk before it was allowed to cool.
The recipe calls for the dish to be baked in a moderate oven – I decided this meant 180°C. It took about 50 minutes to cook. Enjoy!
American bread pudding
85g to 115g bread, cut into small cubes, including crusts (3 to 4 oz)
1 pint milk
15g margarine (½ oz)
1 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla essence or ¼ tsp spice
Heat the milk and margarine. Whisk in the egg and vanilla essence if using. Set aside to cool.
Add remaining ingredients, mix well and bake until set at 180°C.
- Spread top with jam before serving
- Add a little dried fruit before baking
- Add 2tbsp cocoa and an extra tablespoon of sugar to the mix