Mexican Bread Pudding

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 cups cubed (3/4-inch each) lightly toasted sweet French bread
  • 1/2 cup coarsely shredded Chihuahua or mild cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz piloncillo (cone of Mexican brown sugar) or 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 stick of canela (cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, walnuts, or peanuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp round cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a wide 2-1/2 quart baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the egg, milk, and melted butter.  Add the bread cubes and cheese.  Toss well. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, add the piloncillo or brown sugar, water, and a cinnamon stick.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the syrup uncovered for 5 minutes.  Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick.  Stir in the vanilla.

In the greased baking dish, spread half of the bread mixture evenly over the bottom.  Scatter the nuts and raisins evenly over the bread.  Cover with remaining bread mixture.  Sprinkle cinnamon on top.  Pour the sugar syrup evenly over the surface.  With the back of a spoon, press the bread mixture gently to soak with the syrup.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the pudding is set.  Carefully set aside a generous portion for Uncle John.  Makes 8 servings.

This recipe from central Mexico calls for making the sugar syrup with piloncillo and using lots of creative variations.  Sweetened dried cranberries can be used in place of or in addition to raisins. Also, oaxaca cheese can be used if chihuahua cannot be found. Glazed pecans also compliment the pudding nicely.  Grandma Carmen used peanuts.”

-Johnny Guel

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