The weather forecast called for panic shopping

Snow! Snow! Snow! Snow! I’m enjoying a snow day at home because ManRay took my car to get to work (it has all-wheel drive and his doesn’t).

snowflake tablecloth

Okay, I know it’s not as bad here as it is at Luray’s house, but we’ve got at least six inches of snow. Maybe more. Hard to tell because it’s blowing madly and won’t settle down to get measured.

When we get weather forecasts like this, supermarkets always get emptied of bread, eggs and milk. What’s with that? Does everyone have a sudden, inexplicable need to make French toast?

Not me. But in honor of this snowy weather shopping mystery, I’m making Rich Bread and Butter Pudding from Tish Boyle’s “Diner Desserts”. And I didn’t have to run to the store to get the ingredients, either!


Her recipe calls for fresh French bread which gets dried out in the oven. I found it faster and easier to start with it stale. It just doesn’t sound so nice to say “stale”. Get over it.


  • 12 slices (1/4 inch thick) stale French bread
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • dash of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Butter the bottom and sides of a shallow 2-quart glass baking dish.  Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, use a rubber spatula to combine the butter and cinnamon. Spread the mixture evenly over one side of each bread slice, using the entire mixture. Arrange the bread slices, buttered side up, in the buttered pan.

Place the milk, cream and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it comes to a gentle boil. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar until well blended. Gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture. Whisk in the nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Pour the custard mixture evenly over the bread slices in the baking dish, then press down to make sure they are saturated. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts.

Place the baking dish in a large roasting pan and place it on the oven rack. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake the pudding for 50 minutes, or until golden brown and just set. Serve the pudding warm, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.


The smell is heavenly while it’s baking! The taste is heavenly, too, but the texture wasn’t right because I didn’t allow enough time for the bread to get saturated with the custard.

Next time I might try letting it sit overnight in the fridge before baking. I’d also cut the recipe in half for just the two of us. Add bacon and you’d have an awesome breakfast.

I’ve shown it on a snowflurried tablecloth of unknown vintage. Is it old? New from Target? Homemade from yardage?

I have another tablecloth in a near-identical print, only this one has metallic gold stamping and a yellowed background which seems old. The other one is crisp, has a white background and only a dull gray in the print which seems new. And a cop out. Neither one has a tag or identifying marks. I’d love to hear from anyone who knows more!

The little diner plate is marked “Victory”. The casserole pan is Fire-King 2000. The cup and saucer are vintage Fire-King restaurant ware.

The sugar shaker was made by McKee and is a part of a set (Sugar, Salt and Pepper) that belonged to one of ManRay’s aunts. She took them off the back of her stove and gave them to me when I admired them about a dozen years ago. I think of her with amazement and delight every time I use them.