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Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail’s Blackberry Brown Bread Pudding | The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail’s Blackberry Brown Bread Pudding

Mrs. Rabbit has brought home brown bread, and Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-tail have been busy picking fresh blackberries. While Mrs. Rabbit’s little bunnies (minus Peter!) had the bread, milk and blackberries for supper, if there had been any leftovers, she might have pulled together this simple dessert typical of 19th-century rural England on a following day. As The Tale of Peter Rabbit was penned in 1893, I’m drawing inspiration from recipes of the era, including a common bread and butter pudding and summer pudding.

We often think of  Peter Rabbit in relation to springtime.

What is Bread Pudding?

Bread pudding, a much-loved dish with a long history, is traditionally made from stale bread soaked in milk, sweetened, and then baked. For centuries, it has been a practical way to repurpose stale bread, avoiding waste. While it is thought to have originated with 11th-century English cooks, similar dishes can be found in various cuisines. From France’s “pain perdu” (French toast) to India’s “Shahi Tukra,” each version adapts to local tastes and available ingredients.

Bread Pudding: Historical Origins

In its earlier forms, bread pudding would have been very simple—bread soaked in milk or water and sweetened. As spices and sugar became increasingly available, so did the variations of the recipe. By the 19th century, Eliza Acton had recorded a number of bread pudding recipes in her cookbook. These recipes include ingredients such as suet or butter, currants, and eggs and cream to create a rich custard. Additional flavorings like brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon rind, and candied peel transform this simple dish into a richer more decadent dessert. Bread pudding can be served in two ways- hot and spooned into bowls, or once cooled, sliced like cake.

Several historical references note one overarching principle: what makes bread pudding distinctive is its simplicity. Whether ‘common’ or ‘rich’ in flavour, keep the additions to a minimum!

Variations: Summer Pudding

Another variation of bread pudding from this era is the summer pudding, originally known as “hydropathic pudding,” and served at health resorts. Typically made with raspberries, but by autumn, substitutions with blackberries were common. A perfect alternative for warmer days, summer pudding involves layering bread with fruits, pressing the ingredients together, and then allowing it to soak overnight before serving with cream.

Adapting an 1800s Bread Pudding Recipe

Since Mrs. Rabbit has the fireplace going and will make Peter some chamomile tea, we’re using Eliza Acton’s baked common ‘bread and butter pudding’ as a base recipe. The original recipe instructs us to place slices of buttered bread directly into the pan with currants scattered between the layers. I’ll be switching out the currants for blackberries and reducing the amount of milk from the original recipe to balance the amount of moisture the blackberries will provide the dish. I’ve also sliced the bread into 2-inch pieces. You’re more likely to get a good scoop of blackberries and bread in each mouthful – plus, it’s more visually appealing when serving!

Lisbon Sugar

The sugar mentioned in Eliza Acton’s recipe is Lisbon sugar, also known at the time as clayed sugar, which is sugar from one stage of the sugar refining process. Demerara sugar is the most similar option as it is minimally processed, so it still contains traces of molasses. Raw sugar is the more common product found on grocery store shelves that many people will recognise, so has been used in this recipe.

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Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail’s Blackberry Brown Bread Pudding

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With leftovers from Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail’s dinner, Mrs. Rabbit might’ve made this 19th-century blackberry brown bread pudding in the coming days.

  • Author: Bryton Taylor; In Literature
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Ingredients

Scale

2 1/2 cups 2% milk

1/3 cup raw sugar

4 large eggs

zest from 1 medium lemon

8 slices stale wholemeal bread

7 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups blackberries

Instructions

Notes

Bread pudding can be a great way to use up bread that’s 2-3 days old and no longer fresh. However, if you’ve bought bread just for this recipe, place the slices of bread directly on the oven rack in a preheated oven at 300°F and bake for 5 minutes to dry out.

References

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