Mom’s Old School Bread Pudding

Hey all!

Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I hope y’all had a great day celebrating with Mom, or being spoiled by your kids. I figured today would be a great day to share this recipe with you guys – it’s one that I remember my mom making about a million times when I was a kid, and it tasted amazing every time. She used to make it with my grandma when she was a kid, so it’s definitely a family favourite.

Like all awesome mom-recipes, this one doesn’t have a recipe. Confusing, right? Its one of those dishes that mom just whips up, and she barely even notices she’s doing it. You know those ones I mean? It could be the ultimate chocolate chip cookies, or her famous Sunday-dinner roast chicken. She doesn’t even think about it – it just happens, and it’s AMAZING.

This bread pudding is like that.

Bread Pudding

However, despite the deliciousness of a mom-recipe, it’s extremely challenging when the next person comes along (aka, me) and tries to re-create said recipe. The conversation goes something like this:

Me :”Hey mom, what’s the recipe for your bread pudding?”
Mom: “Oh, you know…”
(By the way, can I just say how much I love it when a sentence starts with ‘oh, you know’. Because I can pretty much guarantee that I do NOT know.)
Mom: “It’s got eggs, and milk, and sugar. Cinnamon. And yeah, you just soak the bread in that, and then bake it.”
Me: “Ok, but… like… how much of everything?”
Mom: “Oh, you know…” (there’s that sentence again.) “I just eyeball it.”

You can see where this going.

I did finally manage to pull the recipe out of her, after much discussion – and the result is this glorious golden-brown pudding. It’s all fluffy and delicious on the bottom, and perfectly toasted on the top. As my mom says, there’s really no way to go wrong with this recipe. You can use whatever kind of bread you want – though I do highly recommend using cinnamon raisin bread! If you’re not a raisin person, you can pick whatever you like best, and it’ll turn out just as delicious, I promise. (Or if you’re a extra raisin-y type, then feel free to toss in a few handfuls!)

This recipe is super quick to toss together, so even though it may seem like a weekend-only kind of a dessert, you can for sure work it into your weekday schedule. Just make sure you don’t skip the bread-soaking step. That’s where all the magic happens… where your everyday, boring, dried-out bread turns into something awesome!

You can serve this hot out of the oven – which I often do, since I can’t stand the waiting! – or it’s still great cold out of the fridge the next morning (it’s an awesome breakfast, after all, it’s like eggs and toast!). Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a dollop of whipped cream.  Or, you can keep it really old school and eat it the way we always did in my family, and the way my mom did growing up. Dish yourself a big bowl, and pour over some cold milk – just like a big bowl of cereal. I know, it sounds weird… but there’s nothing like it!

Hope you guys enjoy this! And just think – if you make it enough times that you just forget the recipe, and could practically make it in your sleep, twenty years from now you can frustrate the heck out of your kids when they call and ask for the recipe!

Talk soon! =0)
~The Baking Nerd

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Mom’s Old School Bread Pudding

  • 8 cups stale cinnamon raisin bread, cubed*
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 4 cups cold milk (or cream, if you want it extra rich!)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 baking dish, and set aside.

In a large saucepan, over medium heat, melt the brown sugar and butter together, until smooth. When it starts to bubble, remove from heat, and whisk in milk. Whisk in the eggs. Add in the salt, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins.

Add the bread cubes to your baking dish, and pour the egg mixture over the top. Let the bread sit and absorb the egg mixture for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle some extra cinnamon over the top, if desired.

Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. If the pudding is very wet in the middle, bake another 5 minutes. (A very slight jiggle in the centre is ok, but it shouldn’t look like jell-o!)

Remove from the oven, and devour.

*If you’re using fresh bread, cut it into cubes, and leave it out on the counter for several hours to dry out. Or, lightly toast the cubes in the oven. Using dry or toasted bread allows it to absorb even more of the delicious eggy pudding mixture!

Dulce de Leche Squares

Hey Friends!

It’s been a little while since my last post… and let me tell you, I’m suffering from serious baking  withdrawal! I was lucky enough to have spent the last two weeks with my best friend and her family, chasing around my adorable and energetic 18-month-old nephew, and having lots of baby snuggles with my  newborn niece. I now know every song from the movie Frozen by heart (have been singing them in my sleep), and am now a thoroughly experienced diaper changer… though, I probably could have gone without adding that to my resume.

Since returning home, I can’t get over how quiet it is! I’ve become so used to all the chaos and noise that I currently have the TV on, some music playing, the vacuum running (not actually USING it, though. No, don’t be silly.) and am terrorizing my cat just to make him meow at me. This noise level seems just about right to my newly trained ears. I don’t know how all you parents out there do it every day… I can barely get myself dressed in the mornings, never mind being responsible for another person or two!

While I loved my time away, I have fallen dreadfully behind on my list of things to bake. Yes, there is actually a list. It’s colour coded, sorted by recipe type, and items get crossed off with one of a rainbow of highlighter colours. (Have I mentioned what a huge list-making Nerd I am?? Well, now you know. It’s a sickness, really.) I have recently fallen in love with an ingredient that is fairly new to me, and have recipes piling up that I’m DYING to make. I have three words for you: Dulce de Leche.

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Guys, if you haven’t had this stuff, you are missing out. It’s amazing. Smooth and creamy deliciousness. It’s like the best caramel sauce you’ve ever had, but better. It’s made of sweetened condensed mik – which, as we know is nature’s miracle ingredient. I have a giant jar of this stuff sitting my my pantry right now, waiting for some baking inspiration to strike! (or for me to stop by with a spoon for a little snack)

You can of course make your own Dulce de Leche sauce, which is what my best buddy Chef Michael Smith does for this recipe. He’s like my kitchen superhero… he knows everything, and makes everything from scratch! He seems like such a cool dude too, I’d love to just go hang out in his kitchen. I actually visited his hometown in PEI a couple years ago, and I was pretty convinced I’d meet him, and we’d become BFF’s and he’d teach me everything he knows.

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That didn’t happen. (Did I mention I’m  a huge Nerd about my favourite TV Chefs? I know, you’re shocked.)

Anyways – back to these bars. They’re seriously amazing. They are loaded with spicy nutmeg which just goes amazingly well with the creamy Dulce de Leche. And who doesn’t love a crumbly oatmeal/brown sugar topping!? Crazy people, that’s who.

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Do yourself a favour and go get a giant jar of Dulce de Leche, eat a bunch of it, amd save just enough to make these bars. And perhaps sing a little song about how reindeer are better than people while you do this. (Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about… I know you do.)

Talk soon! =0)
~The Baking Nerd

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Dulce de Leche Squares

Adapted from Chef Michael Smith’s Make Ahead Meals 

  • 3 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups Dulce de Leche

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper or foil, and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together coconut, oatmeal, flour, baking soda and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a second bowl, mix the eggs, brown sugar and butter until smooth. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until well combined.

Spread half of the batter evenly on the bottom of your prepared pan. Bake until firm and lightly browned, 10-15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and pour the Dulce de Leche evenly over the base. Top with the remaining batter, dropping it in small clumps all over the surface. Return to the oven, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature before cutting into squares.

Eat. Drink Milk. Enjoy.

Caramel Cashew Crunch Bars

Hey Everyone!

You know what I’ve been thinking today? In addition to life’s big milestones (you know, birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.) sometimes, we all really should make sure we take time to celebrate the little moments. It can be super small everyday things, like:

“Go Me! I made it through the entire Netflix season of Fuller House in just one day! I’m amazingly focused!”
or
“I just drove right up to the Timmies window today! No waiting in line for this guy!”
or
“I did five loads of laundry today, and then immediately folded and put every piece of it away! Incredible work, self!”  (and if this ever happened, it would FOR SURE be worth celebrating.)

Sometimes it seems like we schedule our lives around these huge events and holidays. Not that we don’t all love these days – and the truly amazing baked goods that we get to chow down as a result. I love a good birthday cake or pumpkin pie as much as the next gal!
But just imagine for a second how many more opportunities to snack on tasty baking there would be if we celebrated all the small stuff. Just think of it:

“These cookies are for you –  I can’t believe you bought that sweater on sale!”
or
“I made you this cake to celebrate another successful optometrist appointment!”
or
“Hope you enjoy this pie! You so deserve it – you shoveled that driveway like a boss!”

So why was I thinking about this today? Well, we’re right in the middle of that humdrum time of the year. It’s winter (enough said). Christmas seems like a million years ago, and  the deliciousness of summer seems like it’ll never get here. February just dragged on forever (thank you VERY much, leap year!) Luckily, this year we do have an early Easter, so of course there are many large bags of Mini Eggs to be eaten in preparation for that. But still. It can get a little bit “blah”.

Well, I say no more blahs! Let’s celebrate, people!

What, you ask, am I celebrating today?! Well, I’m wishing myself a VERY Happy Last-Day-of-My-Student-Loan Day!! 😀
This might be a slightly larger-sized deal that my previous examples, in the grand scheme of life (though I do thoroughly enjoy getting a sweater on sale!) — but I’m SUPER excited to be loan-free! I feel like this also means I’m officially an adult, having broken off the last ties to my student life…. but I’m wisely choosing to ignore that part, and will continue to think of myself as not-quite-yet grown up, thank you very much.

Here’s the big question, though … What amazingly delicious baked good is my celebration treat of choice today? Why, it’s these Caramel Cashew Crunch Bars, of course!

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Confession time: I don’t really like nuts in my baking, as a general rule. I know, I’m a terrible baker lady. That’s not to say I don’t bake with nuts — you gotta give the people what they want! — but if I’m making something just for me, I’m for sure leaving them out.

The exception… cashews. Hoo boy. I could eat my way through a barrel of those babies in no time. They’re CRAZY good. Hence these bars making an appearance for my celebration day!

These really are quite easy to make – they’re a bar cookie, so right away they’ve won me over. The bottom cookie layer is packed full of toffee bits, and pairs perfectly with the dreamy caramel and salty cashews. I should also say, a 9 x 13 pan is just about right for a single-person serving, so you probably shouldn’t mention to anyone else that you’re making these.

So, my suggestion? Break open that barrel of cashews, and find yourself a reason to celebrate!

Talk soon! =0)
~The Baking Nerd

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Caramel Cashew Crunch Bars

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup toffee bits
  • 400 grams caramels, unwrapped
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 2 cups salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with parchment paper, or foil, extending the paper over the edges of the pan.

In a large bowl, stir together butter, sugar, vanilla and baking powder. Stir in eggs. Stir in flour just until combined, be careful not to over mix. Stir in toffee bits. Spread entire mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes until light brown, and center is set.

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and milk. Microwave, uncovered for 1-2 minutes or until smooth, stirring every 30 seconds.
Carefully spoon caramel over the warm crust, and spread evenly. Immediately sprinkle with chopped cashews.

Cool completely in the pan. Using the ends of the paper, remove from pan and cut into bars. Keep them hidden for yourself, or share if you must, and enjoy!

Strawberry Yogurt Bundt Cake

Hey all!

So, you know what else I’m a Nerd about…. Bundt cake pans!
Yes, I know, any baking pan seems an odd thing to get excited over… but let me tell you why  Bundt pans are winning the coolness race over your regular square and round pans:

~ This pan does all the work for you to create a gorgeous-looking cake! You don’t need to be an expert cake carver or decorator to have an applause-worthy cake on your hands (and I am definitely not an expert in either of those things!)
~They come in SO many different shapes and sizes! I won’t admit how many different Bundt pans I own, but let’s just say I’m on my way to a Guinness World Record sized collection.
~ That awesome moment when you’re flipping the cake upside-down to remove the pan! There’s nothing like that 5 seconds of complete terror where you don’t know if it’s going to turn out, or if it’s stuck to the pan… or maybe you’ll just send the whole thing crashing to the ground, and you’ll just have to grab a fork  – Rachel and Chandler-style – and chow down off the floor. Some people like to hop on a roller coaster for their big adrenaline thrills… I just pull out my trusty Bundt pan.
~Last, but not least: The word Bundt. It’s just the coolest word ever. I’m actually considering naming my first-born Bundt. That would be epic.

Now that you’re on board the Bundt bandwagon  – check out this AMAZING Strawberry Yogurt Bundt cake!

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This beautiful cake is totally perfect to bring along to a pot-luck, or a big family brunch. In fact, who needs brunch, this cake is breakfast all on it’s own. Fruit and yogurt? That sounds like breakfast to me!

Although this cake is one of my favourite ways to use up a big pile of fresh-picked summertime strawberries, it’s still completely delish in the winter using frozen berries – it just give you a summer-y feeling, even during the worst blizzards of the season.

It’s super easy to throw this one together – and what could be better than a 30-second glaze recipe to finish the whole thing off!

So go and share the Bundt love, my friends.

Talk soon! =0)
~The Baking Nerd

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Strawberry Yogurt Bundt Cake

adapted from A Spicy Perspective

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups flour, divided
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup lemon yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups strawberries, diced (if frozen, do not thaw)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until smooth. Mix in eggs and lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, stir together 2 1/4 cups of flour, baking soda and salt. Alternate adding the flour mixture and yogurt to the butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated – do not over-beat.

Toss the strawberries with remaining 1/4 cup flour, until well coated. Fold them gently into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan, and bake for 60 mins, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a plate or a wire rack, and cool completely.

Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and lemon juice. Add additional lemon juice as needed, until mixture is a thin, pour-able  consistency, and all sugar lumps are gone.

Pour over completely cooled cake, and watch the magic happen.

Serve, try not fight over the pool of glaze in the middle of the Bundt cake, and enjoy!

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Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

Hey ya’ll!

So… had anyone else forgotten it was still winter? We’ve  been pretty spoiled this season, having had a green Christmas, and some 15 degree days in January. Plus, the groundhog told us that we were almost done with this whole winter business, and I don’t know about you, but I always listen to weather-predicting woodland creatures.

Well – the last few days have reminded Ontarians that winter is still here, and you’re not getting away with wearing your fall jacket anymore! It’s been snowing almost non-stop for 3 days now, which left me staring out my window, waiting for the plows to come and  free me from my snowy prison like a kid watches for the ice cream truck in summer (do they still have ice cream trucks?! Now I’m feeling old…)

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On the bright side… being trapped at home for a couple days left me with lots of time to ponder what kind of treats I’d like to bake and eat. In my search for deliciousness, I came across this gem which is one of my all time fav combos – Peanut Butter and Chocolate. Need I say more? You could cover a cardboard box in PB & chocolate, and it’d probably be fantastic.

I just so happened to have had all the ingredients on hand to whip this up right away (love it when that happens!), and these will be going right to the top of my “Must Repeat” list. They are SO GOOD, guys. When you see the ingredients, you’ll know why… it contains nature’s miracle ingredient, sweetened condensed milk. I don’t know what it is about that stuff, but I’m pretty sure it can make a recipe better just by talking about it while you’re baking. For real.

The fudgy peanut butter filling in these bars is possibly the best thing you’ve ever tasted. I’m definitely going to come up with ways to work it into every recipe I make…. maybe even like a PB fudge lasagna, or something. That sounds great.

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This recipe also gives me the opportunity to nerd-out about one of my most favourite things – baking chips! I absolutely love having a huge container full of every kind of baking chips you can name – it just makes me smile 🙂 Peanut butter chips are the best invention ever, as far as I’m concerned. You get all the fabulous peanut-buttery goodness that you crave, without all the gross gloopyness of measuring out PB. (In case you wondered, gloopyness is a technical baking term.)

So go forth, and bake. It’ll be delicious – and the oven will keep the house warm while mother nature tries to bury us all in snow.

Talk soon – and stay warm! =0)
~The Baking Nerd

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Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

adapted from Bakingblonde’s Weblog

  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line a 9 x 13″ pan with foil or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together butter, sugar, soda, oats, flour and salt until all the butter is incorporated, and you have large crumbs. Set aside 1 cup of the crumbs for later.

Press the remaining crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 mins.

While the crust bakes, in a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk, and stir until smooth.

When the crust comes out of the oven, spread the peanut butter mixture evenly over the crust. (The mixture may stick to the crust underneath so be gentle here.) Sprinkle the reserved crumble evenly over the filling, and return to the oven for 15 minutes more.

Remove from the oven, and sprinkle both types of chips evenly over the top, carefully pressing the chips down into the bars.  Return to the oven for 5 more mins, until the chips are just starting to melt.

Remove from the oven, and cool completely before cutting. Store bars in the fridge. (The filling may become melty if left in a warm area.)

Welcome!

Hey Everyone!

Can’t tell you how excited I am for this – my very first blog post!

I suppose I should start by introducing myself…
By day, I’m a just a regular cubicle-dwelling gal. No, I’m not a professional pastry chef (but a girl can dream, right?!)… I’m just a girl who LOVES baking. And when I say love, I do mean it… every teeny tiny detail. The sight of all your ingredients laid out on the counter; the sounds of the mixer as it whips up your favourite cake batter; the squishy feeling of a fresh batch of cookie dough; the smell (oh man, the smell!) of cinnamon baking in the oven; and, well obviously, the taste! I think everyone on earth craves the taste of really amazing baked goods, right?!

So, why The Baking Nerd? (although, I feel I may have just answered that one…)

Well, let me ask you this…
Do you dream about recipes? Do you get over-the-top excited about chocolate chips? Or butterscotch chips?? Or peanut butter chips?!? Do you plan your vacations around your baking schedule? If you answered yes to all – then you might be a Baking Nerd, too! I knew it wasn’t just me 😉

Of course, I don’t mean Nerd in the science-y, comic book-y, Big Bang Theory-y kind of way. I just mean that I am completely, passionately obsessed with baking, and everything that comes along with it. And I want to share my nerdy love of all things baking with the world!

(I also might be nerd-level obsessed with other non-baking things… but we’ll get to those later.)

So what kinds of things do I bake?
I’m so glad you asked! The answer is – pretty much anything. I definitely have tons of cookies (and their much more easygoing sibling, the bar cookie) in my regular rotation, but I also do cakes, cupcakes, brownies, loaves, and TONS of no-bake treats. I’m not really fussy about presentation, or decoration (in fact, I’m potentially one of the worst decorators you’ll ever meet!)… as long as they taste incredible, that’s all that matters!

Pretty much, if it contains butter and sugar, then I’m on board.

Ok, so now that we’re all besties… let’s get this show on the road!

I debated pretty hard on what my first ever recipe post would be – so I finally decided just to go back to the beginning of my baking career, with the very first recipe I ever made on my own. Some people call them Chocolate Macaroons, others say Haystacks, but to me, they’re Cocoa Quickies!

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These amazing cookies are a definite go-to in my no-bake recipe box. My brothers and I used to whip up a batch of these after school, and since they’re super quick, we had time to devour the whole thing before mom and dad got home! The only problem was waiting for them to cool enough that you didn’t scorch the roof of your mouth on the first bite. I wish I could tell you I only did that once… but… They’re really good, ok?? You  just wait and see!

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The whole recipe comes together in no time – and it’s all done in one pot on your stove. There’s so little cleanup involved, there’s really no reason not to make these everyday… in fact, I think you should.

They’re SUPER easy to customize, with what I call the “Mix Ins”. While these are awesome all on their own, you can step it up a notch and throw in any of the following:
~your favourite nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds)
~toffee bits
~baking chips – any flavour! Chocolate, white, PB… anything goes!

Oh, and this is also one of the best licking-the-wooden-spoon recipes ever. I think most people are with me on this being one of the best parts of baking 🙂

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I personally use a cookie scoop for these (best baking tool ever!!), but you can use grandma’s tried and true Two Teaspoons method, too.

So go now… make a huge batch, and share them with some awesome people.

Talk soon! =0)
~The Baking Nerd

 

Cocoa Quickies

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup Mix In (optional)
    • nuts, toffee bits, baking chips*

In a saucepan, mix together milk, butter, sugar and cocoa; bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients*. Working quickly, drop by spoonfulls onto waxed paper, or greased cookie sheet. Cool until cookies are firm, about 15 mins. Enjoy!

*Please note, if you’re going to use baking chips as your Mix In, I would recommend putting them into the freezer for at least an hour prior to mixing them in. Also, stir in the oatmeal and coconut first, to allow the mixture time to cool. One you stir in the frozen chips, work quickly to scoop them out – you don’t want to end up with a melty mess – unless that’s what you’re going for 🙂