Ye Olde Baked Bread and Butter Pudding
My earliest memory of Bread and Butter pudding was when I was about 7 or 8 years old. We were always served dessert in our household and, what’s more, you were expected to eat it. Most of my mother’s desserts were delicious, waterfall pudding, golden syrup dumplings and fritters were favourites. But… one day she served her favourite dessert. She was bright eyed and almost salivating as she served all of us. No doubt she was waiting for unadulterated enthusiasm from us as she waited for us to take that first magical mouthful. How utterly disappointed she would have been when I spat it out with disgust. What the hell was this? Soggy bread lying on top of milk and cream custard! I expressed my disdain most vehemently. My poor mother was aghast. How on earth could I not love this heavenly creation… Baked Bread and Butter Pudding.
Her mother, my grandmother, Katie Millicent Byrne taught mum how to make this “amazing dessert” when my mother was just a girl. One of my mother’s first jobs was to make the Bread and Butter pudding for the family, a job she did well and from about the age of 8 or 9 years old. The recipe was from her mother’s mother and probably came out with her from Ireland.
My mother grew up on a farm, Ben Lomond, near Cowell in South Australia. They had a copious supply of milk from their cows. Grandma would separate the milk from the cream. The cream was transferred into cream cans and taken down to the front gate about one kilometre from the house. A truck would come past once a week to collect the tins of cream which would then be transported to Port Lincoln, some 100 kilometres away. The cream would go to the butter factory and once graded Grandma would be paid accordingly.
So, Grandma had milk and cream and she would make her own butter, all used for cooking the bread and butter pudding. I had grandma’s butter pat for many years, an item I treasured. When we shifted to Darwin from Adelaide some of my treasures were given to my sisters to care for and the butter pat was one such treasure. It was so well used that the normally rough side was all smooth from the wear and tear. A lot of butter was patted with that butter pat! Sadly however, the butter pat was ‘borrowed’ by a couple of nieces who no doubt used it to make mud cakes and it is now lost to their garden. I pray that one day it will be found.
I digress… Grandma also made her own bread and cooked it in their wood stove. Her kitchen was erected using pug and pine. It would make any modern Greenie weep with envy. I loved that adorable rustic kitchen. Sadly, it no longer stands but I have lots of photos. I remember several visits with both my grandmother and my mother and loved the stories they shared with me. I even vaguely remember the outside cellar where food was stored and the geraniums around the tank stand, just gorgeous but I digress again, sorry.
Chooks at Ben Lomond were the true free range variety, they weren’t called that in those days, you didn’t have to, that’s all there were. There were dozens of them running around the yard providing an endless supply of eggs.
So there you have it, all the ingredients for Baked Bread and Butter pudding, right there in the back yard. And it was cooked in a wood stove.
It is little wonder that my reaction to my mother’s dessert caused her so much distress. She has since spent the last 40+ years trying to entice me to “just try it Jane, I think you’ll like it.” (Ah, the damage caused by childhood memories) I must be the only person in the family who doesn’t like it. My husband loves it (not sure about my son, I certainly didn’t offer him any) and my niece, Rori, has just had a weekend at ‘grandma’s’ (mum) where she has learnt the secret of how to make a ‘Katie Millicent Byrne Bountiful Baked Bread and Butter Pudding’. The legend is passed on. I will have to make it and see what I have missed out on. I can’t be the only person on the planet who does not like Bread and Butter pudding!
All I remember is being forced to stay at the table stubbornly refusing to eat it. My siblings were all off playing and the dishes were washed and put away. All that is left on the table is the cloth, a bowl of pudding and one obstinate child who, no doubt, my mother thought of as ungrateful and clearly spoiled rotten, to the core. Eventually she gave up and dessert time was never the same for me. It always held a certain suspicion. I tell you though, it sure made those golden syrup dumplings taste better but that is a story for another day.
Enjoy Katie Millicent Byrne’s Bountiful Baked Bread and Butter Pudding.