Swedish Rye Bread Pudding

by Janice on April 21, 2010

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The first bread pudding I ever had (or at least remember) was in a hotel restaurant on Harbor Island in San Diego.  I savored it while perched upon a swivel barstool at the diner-style counter at the tender age of six.  It was an inauspicious introduction to bread pudding, to be sure.  The fact that I recall the chewy bread, slight cinnamon hint, and creamy vanilla custard bursting with sweet raisins has more to do with maternal restriction of my food intake than with the quality of the pudding.  Anything with bread, or whole milk, or, gasp! cream, was a rare treat for me.  Obviously it made a big impression, served, as it was, in a clear sundae glass, with dark raisins peeking out from the pale pudding.  I’m almost certain it had a naughty cap of overly sweetened whipped cream, as well.

Childhood memories notwithstanding, bread pudding has generally let me down with a dull thump.  I’ve had my heart broken by gorgeous, disappointing specimens in bustling city bakeries that looked as though they should know better.  I’ve made many a bread pudding, attempting to recreate the delight of a young girl, always striving for something that exists only in my memory.  Even if I ate the exact same thing today, I’m sure I’d find it insipid.

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I’m tossing all that out now.  This entirely adult pudding didn’t need to satisfy my inner child.  The cardamom, aniseed, fennel seed, dried orange peel, and molasses in the Swedish rye, mixed with the tart-sweet dried cranberries, catapults bread pudding to new heights.  Move over little girl; there’s a new momma in town, and she knows how to play.  Care to join me?

Swedish Rye (Limpa) Bread Pudding

1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk*
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups stale Swedish rye bread cubes
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tiny bits
coarse sugar (optional)

*You can also use a combination of milk and cream if you are feeling decadent. I’d caution against non-fat or 1% milk because it will make the pudding watery.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, sugar, egg, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.  Place bread cubes in a small buttered baking dish (I used an 8 ½ x 8 ½ rectangular casserole dish), and sprinkle with the dried cranberries.  Pour the milk mixture over the bread and let sit for 10 minutes, occasionally pushing the bread cubes down into the liquid.  Dot the top of the pudding with the butter bits, and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  You don’t need much sugar here; it’s mainly for looks and texture – a slight crunch.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or right from the refrigerator.  Refrigerate any leftovers, should you even have any!

I’ll be submitting this post to YeastSpotting, a collection of the week’s yeast breads around the web, by Susan at Wild Yeast.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Abby April 27, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Made this tonight with my leftover Swedish rye . . . hubby is on his seconds already! Yum! Thanks for a great recipe. =)

Janice April 28, 2010 at 8:29 am

So glad you and your hubby like it!

Kevin April 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Just want to say,this tastes awesome.
I’ve tried it with the cranberries and also with raisins.Both great.
Thanks!

Janice April 12, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Really glad that you let me know it works for you! Thanks for leaving a comment. :)

Heidi December 23, 2013 at 8:42 am

Just wondering…I want to use up some “Farmer’s Rye” bread that I have that does not have the additional spices in the Swedish rye, could I simply add the spices mentioned (I have cardamom and fennel here) ? I will try it and see….thanks for the recipe!

Janice December 26, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Heidi, yes, you could add the spices mentioned in small amounts and it would have a similar flavor. Please let me know how it turned out!

Peter December 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

I’m not fond of boring regular bread pudding. So, I’m very interested in trying this recipe. But what make a rye bread Swedish? Can I use ordinary rye bread from the supermarket? BTW, I’m 72 y.o. with a N. German background, which may be why this recipe tastes good to me just reading it.

Janice December 27, 2013 at 11:15 am

Hi Peter! I’m no expert on rye breads, so I’ll defer to Peter Reinhart’s explanation of what makes a rye bread Swedish. He says it’s because of the use of aniseed, fennel seed, orange peel and cardamom. In the Swedish Rye (Limpa) I made and used in this pudding, the aniseeds, fennel seeds, dried orange peel, and cardamom were ground. (I used a coffee grinder to grind them.) Though I haven’t tried it, I think you could grind the spices and add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of each to the milk mixture when using regular rye bread. I’d suggest using brown sugar instead of white sugar to impart a hint of molasses flavor – and maybe up the amount by a tablespoon to make up for the lack of sugar in regular rye bread. If you don’t have dried orange peel on hand – who does? – you can use a drop of orange oil or orange extract. Failing that, I’d heat the milk a bit and let it sit with an strip of orange zest (zest only, not the bitter white pith) for about a half hour. Remove the zest, make sure the milk is now room temp, and you’re good to go. Long answer, but that would be the best way to approximate the flavor of the pudding here!

Peter December 28, 2013 at 5:34 am

Hi Janice!

Thanks so much for getting back to me [and the others :^) ] s0 promptly. Adding the spices and orange peel sounds like the way to go, and your suggestion of using brown v. white sugar has my taste buds saying, “Yes, yes!” This dish sounds perfect for a dessert on a cold winter evening. I’ll get back to you when I try it. I think your suggestions will motivate others who come upon this website. Again, many thanks!

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