Scottish Bread Pudding

Food is the most primitive form of comfort.” — Sheilah Graham

Second only to a perfect bowl of homemade soup, Scottish bread pudding is pure comfort food. Simple and satisfying. I remember waiting patiently at the kitchen table while my frugal Scottish Grandmother, an Orkney Islands native, turned stale bread and a handful of raisins into a Saturday night treat.

Though I don’t have Grandma Ruby’s recipe, I was able to find several bread pudding recipes online. Combining the best of three, I improvised a dish that would have made Grandma proud. My holiday dinner guests — both Irish, by the way — told me it was the best bread pudding they’d ever had. Several Facebook friends asked me to share it, so here it is.

Meanwhile, I’d enjoy hearing about the comfort foods — or special holiday dishes — your family enjoys. Merry Christmas to all …. Yours, aye!

SCOTTISH BREAD PUDDING

Ingredients:

10-12 thick slices of bread, cut into 1″ squares and left out overnight

1/2 stick of butter

1/2 cup of golden raisins soaked overnight in 3/4 cup of good whiskey; reserve whiskey

4 large eggs

2 cups half-and-half (or whole milk)

3/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Butterscotch sauce (purchase ready made)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat an 8-inch square baking dish with butter, then melt remaining butter in a cup in the microwave.

Line the baking dish with layers of bread squares, then drizzle with the melted butter. Drain the whiskey from the raisins and reserve it in a bowl. Sprinkle the soaked raisins over the bread.

In medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and vanilla. Beat until well mixed. Pour the mixture over the bread, then lightly push down with a fork until bread is covered and soaking up the egg mixture. (Just as my grandmother did, I find it helps to make this dish ahead of time and store in the refrigerator for a few hours, giving the flavors time to meld and to ensure all liquid is absorbed in the bread.)

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly tapped. Cut into square servings while warm. Heat the butterscotch sauce to use as topping (about 1/2 cup, depending on how many you’re serving) on the stove; stir in the remaining whiskey while it gently heats.

Pour the sauce over the top of each serving and add whipped cream if you like. Makes 10 servings, but some guests will ask for seconds.