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Ellen's Kitchen Bread Pudding for 25 with Lovely Rice Pudding variation

13"x20" pan or 2 9"x13" pans, 24-28 servings

This is a baked dessert that is equally good warm or cold. It fills out a light meal with a protein rich dessert, or is delicious as a special breakfast. Half an hour to prepare, half an hour to stand, and about an hour to bake and cool, if you have preheated the milk.

The dish has a finer texture if the milk is scalded and strained before you mix it with the eggs. You must place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven while this custard bakes, and be sure to replenish the water as it steams off. This is a good idea with any custard-type dish.

Beat together:
1 gallon milk
1 quart half & half
2 quarts beaten eggs (about 2 dozen eggs)
2 cup honey (more to taste) OR 3 1/2 to 4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons nutmeg, cinnamon or allspice

If you have preheated the milk, it is fairly easy to beat the honey into the warm milk. Otherwise, be sure to strain the mixture as you pour it over the bread cubes.

Butter the pan(s) and put in:
a layer of soft bread cubes up to 1" thick (about 2-3 quarts soft bread cubes)

For the tenderest and smoothest pudding, you may want to trim the crusts and save them for bread crumbs.
Variation: Spread butter and jam on the bread slices before cutting into cubes

Poke in plenty of raisins, jam or dry chopped fruit; 1-2 cups

Pour the custard mixture over the bread cubes. Then the pan must sit at least hour or refrigerate up to overnight before you bake it. This gives it a luscious, custardy texture.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven at least 40 minutes until firm throughout, allow up to an hour if it is a single refrigerated pan.
Allow to cool at least 30 minutes before serving, or chill.

Nice served with cream or a light lemon-honey sauce. Whiskey or rum sauce, or a scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream is delicious if the pudding is served warm.

Lovely Rice Pudding
You can use plain cooked rice in place of bread cubes. Try with chopped dried apricots or dates instead of raisins and add a tablespoon of lemon zest and a tablespoon of cardamon instead of extra cinnamon.

For a bit of rice pudding fun, see Poem Hunter