Baking to me means love, nostalgia, friends and family. And my guest Chef Alison, shares those exact sentiments. In the movie Ratatouille, Anton Ego the dreaded food critic (voiced by Peter O’Toole) is transferred back to his childhood with a bite of a simple and hearty recipe from his childhood. The same is true for most of use, our tastes are connected by the recipe and moments we shared with our loved ones as we grew up, and even now during our adulthood.
That’s why today’s recipe is a simple but yet so powerful dish. A traditional Liverpool Bread Pudding. Wet Nelly is a scouse favourite. For my US friends, a Scouser is a native of Liverpool in the UK. Scouser’s have a very distinct accent and use a lot of slang words not used anywhere else in the UK. For example, food is scran and if something made you happy (like this bread pudding will) Liverpudlians say “That made me up”. The word scouse comes from a Liverpool stew recipe called Lobscouse. So now that you know the lingo and history, lets get to the cooking part 🙂
Guest Chef – Alison Bradley
Alison spent her Saturday morning teaching us how to make Wet Nelly, a traditional Liverpool bread pudding. You see, when Alison is not volunteering at the local dog shelter, she spends her time helping people grow by teaching the Taste of Life courses offered by the educational charity www.liverpoolcommunityspirit.org. The program is aimed at adults with learning difficulties as well as prisons in the Liverpool area and is a personal development course focusing on world religions and cultural cooking. The stories that Alison shared with us were just heart warming. Cooking is truly an altruistic act and teaching people to cook helps them to build social skills, bond and grow. There is no doubt that food, is the age old way of breaking down barriers.
Wet Nelly is a dish born out of poverty, during the bombing raids of the 2nd world war Liverpool was devastated. The years following WW2 where stricken with poverty and scares food rations. When people have very little, they make the best they can out of that very little. And Wet Nelly, is just that, a delicious bread pudding made with very little.
- A stale white bread loaf
- 140 Grams of Brown Sugar
- 3 Medium Sized Eggs
- 100 Grams of Unsalted Butter
- 2 Teaspoons of Mixed Spice
- 1 Pint of Warm Milk
- 250 grams of Raisins or Mixed Dried Fruits
And that’s really all you need, at current supermarket prices and buying only bio and free-range a batch of Wet Nelly will cost you 4.31 Euros or 4.80 USD. Pretty cheap for a delicious dessert right?
Tips & Tricks
My 1st tip is soak the bread well. I tried this recipe twice, the first time around we let it soak only for a few minutes, the second time around I let it soak for 4 hours. The difference was massive, the longer soaked bread pudding stayed moist and soft while the 1st one dried out by the next day.
Tip number 2, use stale bread. Stale bread lacks moisture and absorbs the milk much better. Don’t have stale bread? Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes at a 180C or 340F and it will dry out perfectly.
Tip number 3, eat while still warm. I know all recipes literally tell you to wait for the cake to cool down. But Wet Nelly is just AMAZING warm with some warm custard on top.
The best part of Wet Nelly (Besides its taste) Is how easy it is to make. Check out the recipe below.
Wet Nelly Liverpool Bread Pudding
- 500 gram Sliced Bread Stale
- 140 grams Brown Sugar
- 3 Medium Eggs
- 500 ml Full Fat Milk
- 100 gram Butter Unsalted
- 2 Tsp Mixed Spice
- 250 grams Raisins or Mixed Dried Fruit
- Cut the crust off the bread and cut it into cubes. Place in the large bowl and soak with the warm milk. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes. I tried this with 30 minutes and 3 hours and the longer soak made a more even wet cake.500 gram Sliced Bread, 500 ml Full Fat Milk
- Using a wooden spoon mix in the Brown sugar, Eggs, Butter and Mixed Spice. You can use a whisk but the bread pieces get stuck in the whisk so a wooden spoon works best. Do NOT use an electric mixer, you want clumps and not a smooth batter.140 grams Brown Sugar, 3 Medium Eggs, 100 gram Butter, 2 Tsp Mixed Spice
- Fold in the raisins or mixed dry fruit. Now place in baking tin. I used a 9 x 9 baking pan which worked perfectly. The first time I baked wet nelly I didn't line my baking tin with baking paper and while it didn't get stuck to the pan, it did break a little when removing it. The next time I used baking paper and got it out in a single piece.250 grams Raisins
- Bake at 180 Degrees or 340 Fahrenheit for 50 to 55 minutes. You can do a wooden skewer test to make sure its done but I trust it will be at that point. Note that I used convection to get a more even bake.