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Lesson Learned

I never thought of myself as spoiled but since starting this blog, I am constantly coming across ingredients and recipes that I disliked as a child for no good reason.  Pudín de pan is another example.  It’s only crime against me was not being natilla, panetela or another of my grandparent’s desserts that I loved.  I’d come to their house for lunch, excited to see the flan tin brimming with the tell-tale amber glaze, only to be disappointed when a caramel drenched bread pudding filled with dried fruits and nuts would arrive at the table.  The adults were thrilled but the kids were underwhelmed.  Where was the flan?  Did that pruny pudding thing eat it?

Firm but creamy, spicy but soothing with the thin layer of caramelo, I liked it despite myself but it was never my favorite.  I’d work around the walnuts, figs, or prunes to get to the cinnamon rich pudding.  My grandfather might ask why I was leaving behind the best parts, but he never altered the recipe.  Why should he?  He was right and I was wrong.

Pudín de Pan con Nueces y Dátiles/ Bread Pudding with Walnuts and Dates
Of course now, I love the combination of dried fruits and rum drenched pudding.  This weekend, I decided to make the Cuban version of pudín de pan to take to a friend’s barbecue.  As I was cutting it up to serve, someone asked what made it Cuban.  Taken aback, I said it was the rum.  That answer seemed to satisfy everyone, but it wasn’t entirely truthful.  The real answer, sugar, would have been confusing.  After all, most desserts include sugar.  But it’s the the thin layer of caramelo that I most closely associate with Cuban desserts and pudín de pan in particular.  I love watching the sugar go from granule to liquid to gold and trying to catch it just before it becomes bitter.

1/2 pound of bread, crust removed and cut into small cubes (challah or brioche)
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum
Freshly grated zest of one orange

1/2 cup walnuts halves
1/2 cup dates, pits removed and quartered
1 tablespoon of unbleached, all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, pour milk over cubed bread.  Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1 cup of sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.  Reduce speed to low and add vanilla extract, rum and orange zest.  Add bread mixture and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine walnuts, dates and flour and then fold into bread mixture.

Pour remaining 1/2 cup of sugar into small saucepan.  Place over medium heat and move pan frequently but do not stir until it takes on an amber hue.  Pour caramel into mold (like a loaf pan) and swirl so than bottom and sides are lightly covered.  The caramel will be very hot so it should be handled carefully.

Add the prepared bread mixture to the mold.  To prepare the baño de María, place it in a larger roasting pan.  Pour enough hot water into the pan so that it comes at least two-thirds up sides of the mold.  Carefully place both pans in the oven and bake for two hours.  The pudding will be done when an inserted knife comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before un-molding.  To un-mold, invert over a serving plate.  It will take a minute or so to release.  Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or ice cream.

Makes 12 to 16 servings.

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amyjoy #

    That looks delicious.

    20 April 2010
  2. Patri #

    I can savor it from here…abrazos

    21 April 2010
  3. babyblizz #

    This looks so good. I have to try and attempt to make it one day.

    21 April 2010
  4. I make “Pudin de Pan” too I don’t know what makes it Cuban, maybe the fact that Cubans just make it that way period. lol. Well let’s see Cuban “Pudin de Pan” tend to be custard like, like there’s no bread chunks it’s a complete pudding unlike many other cultures bread pudding. Although in Spain similar bread puddings are made idk.

    Mu pudding de pan is simple, just bread, soaked with milk, 1 can evaporated milk, sugar to taste, eggs, butter and sometimes raisins oooh almost forgot the cinnamon powder and dash of vanolla. Mix it all up and bake it in a greased baking dish.

    Then when done, we pour “almibar” all over it (a syrup my grandma makes of sugar, water, and cinnamon sticks)

    I really enjoy your blog 🙂

    22 April 2010
    • hungrysofia #

      I think baking it for two hours gives it that smooth texture without making it dense.

      22 April 2010
  5. Hi. I was just about to start making this when I realised you do not say the amount of milk or spices?

    6 April 2011
    • hungrysofia #

      So sorry about that and thank you for catching it! It’s 2 cups of milk, 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I like a lot but you can play with it) and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. I’ve corrected the original post as well. Please let me know how it goes!

      6 April 2011
  6. My pleasure and thank you!

    19 April 2011
  7. Sofia, you just made my day with this one! My American fiance MUST try this, though I’m sure I’ll hear the same whining about the dates and nuts. SOO the best part!

    31 January 2012
  8. osana #

    What makes pudin cuban is the fact that when the Cuban bread turned hard nothing was wasted back then so it was made into bread crumbs and desert. ….as well as oranges, sour oranges, grapefruit, papaya,,,,,the juice was extracted but the rinds were cut in sections and made into a delicious desert in syrup made from brown sugar ….as well as the papaya….like I said nothing was wasted….BTW…..I make my pudin very different, like my grandmother in Spain, she grated the bread…that way you have crumbs for bistec empanizado as well as pudin…..

    10 November 2016

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  1. Catching Up in December « hungry sofia
  2. Caramel Bread Pudding « Poppy's Patisserie

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