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Old fashioned Vanilla Bread Pudding with Winter Fruit
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Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; place the seeds and bean in a small heavy saucepan. Pour 2% low-fat milk into pan, and cook over medium-low heat to 180 degrees or until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan (do not boil). Remove from heat, and let cool; discard vanilla bean. Combine boiling water, mixed fruit, and raisins in a small bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes or until softened (do not drain). Brush melted margarine over bread slices, and place bread on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Arrange half of bread in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray, tearing bread slices to fit dish, if needed. Spoon softened fruit and soaking liquid over bread; top with remaining bread. Combine the vanilla-milk mixture, evaporated milk, and next 5 ingredients (evaporated milk through egg whites) in a medium bowl; stir well with a wire whisk. Pour over bread, pressing gently to moisten. Cover dish, and place in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes or until set. NOTES : Yield: 8 servings.