This was one of my mother's favorite desserts. It dates back to her childhood, so I will tell you a little about that. She was the fourth of seven children. Her family lovingly referred to her as “La Niña”, so as you see, long before I decided she was my Mamina she already had a nick name, and to make things more complicated outside the family circle she went by her middle name, Erundina. It was not until we came to the United States that she began to use her first name, Monica.
Her family lived in the small sugar mill town of Manati, in the province of Oriente. If you agree with me that the island of Cuba looks like a crocodile, this would be right around where the crocodile’s eye would be located.
Her father was an accountant for the railroad and the sugar mill. He was one of my favorite people! Her mother had been a teacher before her marriage and played the piano. My mother says her parents doted on her and her siblings.
The children attended a one room school house, where all the children from first to sixth grade were taught by the same teacher. My mother loved school and was an excellent student. La Niña often finished her assignments first, and would then assist the teacher in helping other students. At the end of the sixth grade, the teacher had a great surprise for her, Erundina had earned a full scholarship to a boarding school in the city! My mother was delighted! Here was her opportunity to continue her studies.
Unfortunately, her father decided that she was too young and innocent to live away from home. She told us this was the greatest disappointment of her life. However, she loved to learn, so though her formal education ended early she was a voracious reader and continued to find opportunities to learn many things, by reading or doing, throughout her life.
My mother always spoke of this dessert as something wonderful, she would save up “old bread” to make it. I am not a fan, maybe because wheat does not agree with me, but I hear from those who like bread pudding that it’s very good!
PUDIN DE PAN
½ loaf of white bread
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cooking wine
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup raisins
Melt sugar slowly in a metal mold or quart size baking pan, over medium-low heat. (Yes, you do put the baking pan on the stove, I'm hoping Katie will make this recipe and post simpler instructions) Stir constantly so it won’t burn. When the sugar turns golden brown, immediately pick up metal mold with hot pads or oven mitt. Turn it in all directions so the melted sugar covers the bottom and sides of the mold. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Remove crust from the bread, break it up and soak with milk. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, add the melted butter, cooking wine, cinnamon, vanilla, raisins and bread. Put it all into the container you coated with the caramel (melted sugar). Put this container inside another pan with 1 inch of water in it. Bake at 350 for about 2 hours, or until a toothpick stuck in it comes out dry. Let it cool before taking it out of the pan.
By the way, Mamina made her Pudín in a pressure cooker, rather than the oven. I had to do some experimenting to make the conversion. Let me know if you want the directions for the pressure cooker version.