There are many advantages to marrying a European man. In my case one of the many stand out benefits of marrying into the Swiss culture is that a fondue party is neither kitsch nor a seventies throwback, reserved for ski vacations or even a novelty. It is the Swiss national dish. Instead of Christmas turkey, they have Fondue Chinoise (a Chinese hotpot of sorts). What is not to love! We have not one but two fondue pots AND a raclette machine. Fondue is a fun dish, however, perilous for the lactose intolerant. The dish hails originally from the town of Gruyère in the Fribourg canton of Switzerland. Legend has it that while the walled city was under siege from a hostile neighbour canton (Switzerland was not always one happy neutral nation), the food supplies ran low and all that remained was stale bread and the rinds of cheese. So they melted it down and used the bread to sop it up, it turned out it was a filling dish that also created solidarity among the villagers due to its communal nature. I learned all this on a recent trip to Gruyère so if you happen to be from another part of Switzerland and have a different rendition (that potentially includes your hometown) I apologize for any historical inaccuracies.
So when preparing for the evening’s festivities, I asked Pascal what we needed to get and how much, concerning the bread the answer was, “when it comes to fondue, if you run out of bread it’s game over.” So as a good American girl, I overbought and subsequently over cut thus leaving me with a ton of cubed bread. Hence the real reason for this entry, bread pudding, fondue was just a side plot. Like fondue, this sort of bread pudding was a wartime, WWII, replacement for cake when supplies were being rationed. Most of the ingredients are already in your fridge and it is exceptionally easy to make. The resulting dish is delicious and very homemade in a grandmother kind of way. One tip would be to make sure that you are having some sort of party to serve the bread pudding lest you feel inclined to eat it for breakfast lunch and dinner.
Left over bread cubed to fill a 13 x 9 inch baking pan
Butter to grease the pan
1 cup raisins
3 free-range eggs
4 cups milk
2 cups sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
Pre-heat the oven to 190˚C or 375˚F.
Step 1: Put the bread and the raisins into the greased pan.
Step 2: Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and pour over the bread. Let soak for about an hour, pressing down with a spatula every now and then to make sure the top gets soaked too.
Step 3: Put into the oven for about an hour. Let cool slightly then serve.
Note: You can use white or brown sugar, I used both. My house is now white sugar free! More brown sugar means a more earthy flavour. Also this pudding is great warm but also excellent room temperature.