Remembered from childhood, my spouse and sister-in-law recreated this receipt! Bertha had never written it down. I did amp up the raisins and cashews, however this is a recipe for the generations! —Rich Altmaier
Equipment: 3 1-pint baking pans, or one 6-cup baking dish.
A shallow pan holding water, in which to place the baking pans, in the oven.
A sauce pan of 5 or more cup capacity.
We want the bread to be either stale (day old), or if fresh then toast it a minimal amount, just starting to tinge brown.
Trim off the bread crust and cut each slice into 9 pieces.
Place milk and 6 tbs of the sugar in a large saucepan, and heat until almost boiling.
Remove milk from heat and add the bread. Push the slices into the milk to soak up well. Bertha says to leave to soak for 30 minutes.
While the bread is soaking, we will prepare a caramelized coating for the baking pans.
Divide the remaining 3 tbs of sugar, and 3 tbs of water, among the baking pans. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Heat the baking pans, tilting occasionally for even boiling of the sugar water, until the color is nicely dark. Do not stir once boiling starts! Remove from heat and rotate the pan to spread the caramelized sugar all around the bottom.
Leave pans to cool.
Now preheat the oven to 350F convection.
Place the shallow pan in the oven, where we will eventually rest the baking pans.
Pour water into the shallow pan, about 1/2 inch depth.
Beat the eggs for about 6 minutes on medium speed, to get them nicely aerated.
Add spices and vanilla to the eggs and beat in.
Stir the cashews and raisins into the milk.
Check that the milk is not too hot, under 160F, as we don't want the eggs to curdle!! Wait until it cools, if needed.
Lastly stir the egg mixture into the milk and mix well.
This mixture may be quite liquid, but this is fine!
Pour the mixture into the baking pans. Don't fill over 3/4 full.
Place baking pans in the oven water bath, and bake about 40-60 minutes.
Test at 40 minutes by shaking; it is done if the batter wobbles as one piece.
Let it cool. The pudding will sink down a bit.
Run a knife around the side of the baking pan.
Place serving dish over the baking pan, and upend it. The pudding will fall out nicely.
Bertha says chill in the refrigerator to improve the caramel taste!