If you are a regular reader to my blog you know I’ve mentioned my sissy in past posts. This time I am thanking my brother, who I fondly refer to as my “bubba”. He lives back in Hawaii and if I am lucky I see him once a year along with my nephew. I really do need to get back home to Hawaii more often.
Right before Christmas we received a HUGE box of gifts from my bubba that cost a fortune to ship! At the very top of the box was one of the best gifts of all–Punalu’u Sweet Bread! I am such a snob when it comes to sweet bread and to be quite honest, only prefer Punalu’u Sweet Bread. It’s also because I am so proud that this sweet bread is made in the Big Island where I am from. This type of sweet bread goes back to the sugar plantation days when the migrant workers of different cultures shared their foods and recipes. The Portuguese workers shared their sweet bread and Hawaii has enjoyed this ever since.
The Punalu’u Bake Shop is known for their traditional rectangular shaped sweet bread, but they also have a Taro and Guava flavored sweet bread that is just as yummy. If you ever visit the Big Island you have to stop by the Punalu’u Bake Shop. It may be considered quite a long drive, however well worth it with all of the sweet bread and local favorites.
My bubba sent us the dinner roll type of sweet bread so that all three flavors could fit in the box. The Taro flavored one is my favorite and so that one got eaten up fast, umm not only by me of course! I put the rest in the fridge so that it would last longer. But even so, we still couldn’t finish it fast enough and time wasn’t on our side. After we devoured as much sweet bread as our hearts desired we did the next best thing. I made bread pudding!
Here’s where I address “baking with feeling” the premise of how my sissy cooks. She feels her way through cooking–no set ingredients, no following recipes–adding what appeals to her at the time. This is the opposite of how I bake. In general, baking does require exact measurements and weight. You can definitely substitute comparable ingredients, but for the most part the measurement or weight will need to remain the same. HOWEVER . . . there are some comfort, feel good desserts that you can “add a little of this” or “a little of that”–baking with feeling. And this is how I proceeded with making my “baking with feeling” bread pudding.
It started with cutting in cubes the remaining sweet bread–traditional and guava flavored (yes WE ate all of the Taro flavored one!). I added this to a lightly sprayed 9×13 glass baking dish. Next I knew I needed to make a “custard” mixture of sorts to add to the bread. Before the holidays, I bought way too many cans of evaporated milk. I wanted this to be a no fuss one bowl preparation, so in a large bowl in went a can of evaporated milk. I also “felt” like adding some coconut milk, so I added a cup of canned coconut milk and kept the rest (more on that later). I had about four eggs left in the carton, so that got added to the bowl. To that I added a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of vanilla. I probably could have stopped there, but I felt it needed something, a little more body. You can’t just eat Punalu’u Sweet Bread without butter–no way! So I melted a stick of butter and to that a cup of sugar (for a little more sweetness) and added all of that to the mixture. After mixing well, I poured the mixture over the bread and pushed down on the top so all of the bread soaked up the mixture.
I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. I purposely did not preheat the oven ahead of time. I wanted to give the bread some time to really soak up all of the liquid mixture. Once the oven was ready, I baked the bread pudding for about 35 – 40 minutes–yikes I can’t remember. But the best way to check if the bread pudding is done is if it puffs up and when touched it doesn’t feel as squishy anymore–see I told you baking by feeling!
I originally intended to serve the bread pudding with a vanilla bean sauce, but because I had the left over coconut milk, I decided to use all of this up for a sauce. I then found some canned banana curd that I needed to use. In a saucepan went the coconut milk, the banana curd, one mashed up banana, and just a little bit of cream.
As I said above it was supposed to be served with this sauce, but as I took the bread pudding out of the oven, the top seemed a little crisp and dry. So . . . I took the coconut/banana cream sauce and poured it over the top of the bread pudding. I placed it back into the oven for a few minutes. See more baking with feeling!
I am glad that I used the sauce as a topping or glaze for the bread pudding, instead of typically pouring it over and drenching it with the sauce. It would have hidden the beautiful colors from the sweet bread. My only regret was that the Taro flavored bread would have added a nice lavender color. BTW, I used a round cake ring to cut out these perfect round circles.
Oh yeah, definitely great comfort food at its best, especially served warm–yum! And all made by “feeling” as my sissy puts it. I am glad we were able to use up the last of this precious sweet bread from my bubba.
I suppose this post is a tribute to my siblings–I really am thankful for them. I can’t tell you that we have the best of relationships with each other, but we have the best relationships that work for all of us. I love my sissy and bubba and couldn’t imagine being without them even if we do live so far away.
They are probably going to kill me for this, but here’s a blast from the past, hee hee.