(Chicago) - I still remember my Lola (“grandmother”) gathering the stale pan de sal from the previous days’ breakfast. She brought out the llaneras (oval metal baking pans) to be used as mold for her impromptu bread pudding. I never actually saw how she made it, not even the ingredients she used. I was too young to meddle in her affairs in the kitchen but I remember I was in the living room, basking in the fragrance coming out of the oven and awaiting a warm slice of bread pudding.

This recipe is not a remake of my Lola’s recipe. There is no way I could unearth the exact mixture; too late.  However, the recipe below is my adaptation from different versions of bread pudding from various sources online, like Food Network, Epicurious, etc. It is simple to make and very practical with the use of left-over bread. I know Cognac is not cheap but you could omit the cognac sauce. If you have any marmalade or jam in your pantry, it could work fabulously with bread pudding as well. I always believe that all published recipes are but only suggestions; it’s up to us to tweak, adjust and revise according to our taste, which is always subjective.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup raisin
  • ½ stick butter, melted
  • 1 lb (16 oz) stale bread (check package weight)
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut

Mix all the ingredients, except for the bread, raisins and coconut, in a big bowls. Hand beat thoroughly. Then, add the rest of the ingredients and let it sit for 20 minutes for the bread to fully absorb the liquid. While the mixture is resting, pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a shallow baking dish/pan (9”x13”) with butter. Put the mixture in the pan and spread evenly. Bake the pudding, covered with foil, for 40 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 45 minutes more.

Cognac Sauce

  • ½ cup melted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup cognac
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the sugar, butter and vanilla until fluffy using a whisk. Add cognac gradually: pour a small portion, then mix thoroughly and repeat until all cognac is blended. Decrease/increase cognac according to consistency you like.  Serve on the side of bread pudding or drizzle over.