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Recipes For Pioneer and Depression Era Bread Pudding With a Twist

Updated on December 26, 2013

Bread Puddings - Holidays Or Any Days

Bread pudding looks delicious on top, but some people bake surprising ingredients inside.
Bread pudding looks delicious on top, but some people bake surprising ingredients inside. | Source

Traditional Foods of Early American Life

The bread pudding I watched my father enjoy was very simple, easy to make, and filling. It is not a thing of the past, but new versions have emerged that please families all year round in the 21st Century. These newer bread puddings of a different color - and many flavors - take their places next to the traditional puddings prepared with love by the settlers of the Midwest and East and their ancestors from the old countries.

Even during The Great Depression, many farming families could still enjoy a meal of fresh foods. They'd have

  • Roasted corn and sliced tomatoes,
  • Sliced cucumber and onions in vinegar,
  • Sliced bananas and oranges with a little sugar, and
  • Bread pudding.

Some of the bread pudding recipes below really are of a different color - red and/or chocolate. They are very good.

Huge Flavor

"Spoonbridge and Cherry" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. [Photos this page, public domain.]
"Spoonbridge and Cherry" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. [Photos this page, public domain.]

Chocolate Cherry or Cranberry Bread Pudding

This recipe can be made with either dreid tart cherries or dried cranberries.


  • 3 1/2 Cups milk
  • 4 oz Semisweet chocolate – block or chips
  • 2 oz Unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract or cherry or cranberry liquer
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 Large whole eggs
  • 10 slices of bread cut into ¼” bites.
  • 1/2 Cup dried tart cherries or cranberries


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F for a glass dish, 335 for a metal pan.
  • Cooking spray an 8 x 8 glass baking dish, bottom and sides. If you use a metal tin, then increase the oven temp by 10 degrees.
  • In a pot over medium heat, heat milk to simmering.
  • In another pot, chocolates together over low heat, stirring often to prevent burning. When in doubt, use a double boiler to melt chocolate to prevent burning.
  • Remove chocolate from the burner and whisk in the sugar, salt, and vanilla, and stir a couple of minutes, then stir in the eggs (so they don’t cook in the hotter chocolate).
  • Whisk the hot milk into the chocolate and carefully add in the bread cubes.
  • Set aside for 20 minutes so that bread will absorb liquids and flavors.
  • Pour thepudding into the baking dish and scatter dried fruit on top.
  • Cover dish with foil; bake 40 minutes.
  • Remove foil and bake 15 another minutes – a knife blade in the center of the dish should come out nearly clean.
  • Cool the pudding on a wire rack 20 minutes and serve.

Try strawberries instead of raspberries in the recipe below. It is a hit in Sarasota, Florida!
Try strawberries instead of raspberries in the recipe below. It is a hit in Sarasota, Florida! | Source

Raspberry Bread Pudding

Serves several.


  • 1 Uncut loaf of Italian or French bread or another favorite, sliced into 12 slices diagonally
  • Unsalted butter
  • 4 Cups milk
  • One 1-inch piece of a vanilla bean
  • 8 Whole large eggs
  • 6 Tbsp raspberry brandy
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 10 oz frozen raspberries
  • Cooking spray
  • Whipped cream


  • Preheat oven to 340 Degrees for a rectangular glass baking dish, 350 for metal.
  • Butter both sides of all the bread.
  • Pour milk into a large cooking pot over medium heat.
  • With a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean sigment lengthwise and toss it into the milk and stir.
  • Continue to heat milk over medium heat until just below the boil.
  • Remove the vanilla bean; with a spoon or knife, scrape its seeds into cooking milk.
  • Using a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and brandy and mix well.
  • With a wire whisk, blend the hot milk into the eggs slowly. In order to prevent the appearance of scrambled eggs. Stir well to create an egg custard.
  • Place four bread slices the bottom of a cooking sprayed baking dish with a cover.
  • Scatter half the raspberries over the layer of bread.
  • Pour in one-third of the custard on top of the berries.
  • Place another layer of bread, remaining berries, and one-third of the custard.
  • Add the last layer of bread and top of the berries, then pour ove rthe remaining custard.
  • Cover the custard dish, set it into a larger dish or pan in the oven on the cooking rack, and pour hot water into the larger pan to come up the sides of the baking dish a couple of inches.
  • Bake 40 minutes.
  • Remove the baking dish out of the larger pan and set on a hot pad, remove the larger pan and set aside, being careful not to burn the counter, and return the covered baking dish to the oven.
  • Bake 25 minutes.
  • Remove cover and bake 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, cool 20 minutes, and serve with whipped cream.


Add Mangoes to Bread Pudding

Giant mangoes in Bangladesh.
Giant mangoes in Bangladesh. | Source

Coconut-Mango Bread Pudding

Serves several.


  • 1 can (12 or 13 oz) coconut milk
  • 2 Cups whole milk
  • 1/2 Cup half-and-half
  • 1 loaf French bread or your favorite cut to 1-inch cubes (keep the crusts!)
  • 3 Whole large eggs
  • 3/4 Cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 Cup golden raisins
  • 2-3 Ripe mangos, peeled and sliced; or use canned pineaple slices, halved.

Cooking spray.

    Preheat an oven to 340 degrees for a glass baking dish and 350 degrees for a metal pan.
  • Using a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut milk, milk and half-and-half. Stir to mix well.
  • Carefully add in the bread cubes to the first bowl and push them down to make certain that they all have a chance to absorb the liquid. Set aside for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in another bowl, beat the eggs well.
  • Add sugar and vanilla and stir to mix.
  • Pour this sugar-egg mixture carefully into the larger bowl of soaking bread cubes. Stir gently to mix.
  • Add in the coconut flakes and the raisins and carefully stir.
    Cooking spray a rectangular baking dish or pan
  • Scoop the pudding batter into the dish or pan and sprinkle additional coconut flakes over the surface of the pudding.
  • Bake in the center of the top oven rack 30 – 45 minutes until the bread pudding has set and is golden brown. A knife inserted into the center of the pudding should come out almost clean.
  • Cool on a colling rack 15-20 minutes, cut into squares and serve with mango or pineapple slices.

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What do you think?

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from North America

      Thanks for the comments, Cheri and Green Lotus. I've been enjoying these and some others I'll share. Holidays are good for trying new dishes, but they're good all year.:)

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      My husband and brothers-in-law all love bread pudding and they all love to make it. I know they'll jump on these recipes so I'm e-mailing them now, just in time for Thanksgiving. Thanks!

    • Cheri Schultz profile image

      Cheri Schultz 8 years ago from Midwest

      Bread Pudding is my absolute favorite recipe. Thank you so much for sharing these recipes. I will be making one of these for the Holidays!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      That's true, dohn121, but I'll make some tonight as well! :)

    • dohn121 profile image

      dohn121 8 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

      These recipes sound awesome, Patty and just in time for the holidays! Thank you. Bookmarked!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      I think you'll really like that one!

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image

      Hmrjmr1 8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      These sound really great gonna give the Cherry one a Go! Thanks!