Raisins in the Pudding

Over forty years ago, as I landed in the U.S., I came across a short poem and was stunned by the powerful images:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Written by Langston Hughes, one of the prominent leaders and moving forces of Harlem Renaissance but a total unknown in communist Russia, where I came from, it hit me with a surge of emotion I wasn’t even able to understand at that time.

Next came the play by Lorraine Hansberry, whose title was taken from Hughes’ poem, A Raisin in the Sun. It was the first in many ways: the first play written by a black woman produced on Broadway, with the first black director Lloyd Richards; for the first time, trials and tribulations of black lives were introduced to white audience, and for the first time large numbers of black spectators flocked to the theater. The New York Times remarked that this play “changed American theater forever.”

“A dream deferred” eventually exploded in the sixties, exploded violently, drenching the country in blood of some of its best sons. Their martyrdom resulted in many drastic changes. Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is gradually being realized. Certainly, there is still a long way to go, yet children all over the country spend every February learning about black history, and I think that’s an achievement in itself.

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I found it quite indicative of those positive changes when a group of my students whose assignment was to prepare a team presentation about one of the prominent people in American history, chose Frederick Douglass. All four of them (from left to right: Amelia, Rosa, Daisy, and Eduardo) came from different countries. They had a long list of illustrious personages, of different races, ethnicities, and genders, to choose from. Yet they selected a nineteenth century African-American, a former slave turned intellectual and a famous social reformer, and created a glorious tribute to his life and achievements.

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My humble contribution to this glorious tribute is a Rum and Raisins Bread Pudding. My dry raisins grow plump and juicy by soaking in rum.

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I used up my leftover spelt challah, but any bread could be used. For our purposes, spelt is gluten free, but if you have allergies or suffer from celiac disorder, please consult your physician. I break bread into bite-size pieces, rather than smallish crumbs – it retains better texture – and soak them in vanilla soy milk. I am sure any non-dairy plant-based milk substitute will work just as well. Then I add just a little Smart Balance, brown sugar, cinnamon, and those plump and juicy raisins.

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It doesn’t look very attractive yet, but wait! Dump this mess into a lightly misted with oil baking pan and bake it for about an hour.

R&R Bread Pudding 4.jpgIt must be springy to the touch and it should be coming off the sides of the pan. I dust it with unsweetened cocoa powder, but it could also be dusted with powdered sugar, if you prefer. Leave it in the oven for a few more minutes, allowing the dusting to bake in.

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As I serve it hot, in a pool of chocolate syrup, I recall one of Frederick Douglass’ famous quotes, as timely today as it was 150 years ago.

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INGREDIENTS
6 – 8 bread slices (4 cups of bite-size pieces)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup rum
1/2 cup soy or any other plant-based milk substitute
1/3 cup Smart Balance or any other non-dairy butter substitute
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
PROCEDURE
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly mist round or 8 x 8 square baking pan with oil.
Soak raising in tum until plump, about 15 – 20 minutes. Break bread into bite-size pieces, soak in soy milk until soft. Combine all ingredients, mix gently, but thoroughly.
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until springy to the touch and comes off sides easily. Dust with unsweetened cocoa or powdered sugar, leave in oven for 5 more minutes.
Serve hot with chocolate syrup or ice cream.

Enjoy!

54 Comments Add yours

  1. Love it, as always! For whatever reason, people don’t seem to like raisins any more. I love raisins. I don’t get it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t get it either. I use them for snacks, and trained the grandkids too. They know I always have a little box or two with me.
      Thank you for a lovely comment, dear Jeanne!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are very welcome. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging, dear friend!

      Like

  2. purpleslob says:

    Very powerful tribute. And excellent accompanying recipe! I love bread pudding! Made with Mama’s biscuits of course!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Purple Person! I have to make time to go visit your fabulous blog. I miss you, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. purpleslob says:

        Please do come see me!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’d love too! It all depends on The Boss – that’s why he is The Boss. Wherever business takes him, and it looks like in March it is taking us to Vegas again, which I hate, but hopefully, the trip will produce desired results.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A delightful recipe to go along with your wonderful words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Mimi! I am so glad you like it.

      Like

  4. Narine says:

    Very interesting pudding 🙂 should try to cook it. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, dear Narine!

      Like

  5. What a great recipe, Dolly. I enjoyed the poem and history you included too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, dear Roberta!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. CarolCooks2 says:

    I am just soaking my bread as I write this.. No rum but lots of spices and cinnamon, eggs, brown sugar and butter… I can smell it cooking already.. Hubby loves it… Next time I will add rum… X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rum is for soaking raisins; they absorb it and grow juicy. I don’t use eggs in it – interesting.

      Like

      1. CarolCooks2 says:

        My mum always added an egg or two I am supposing depending on how much bread she used… Interesting the differences in a recipe.. I chucked a few blueberries in mine yesterday..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, I do make it with any fruit or berries I have on hand, but no eggs.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. kachaiweb says:

    Finally, got a reason to buy rum again 😁 I love bread pudding and this is a good twist on my ‘usual’ recipe. It’s so fun to switch things up. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You need a reason for rum? Just go get it and have a good time!
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, darling!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This looks delicious, Dolly 😀
    I think, that pudding isn’t so much used any longer, at least not what I hear about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I usually make it whenever I collect enough leftover challah and then take it to services so the entire congregation can enjoy it. My husband loves it, but he is on such a strict diet that he is not allowed even to think of it!
      Thank you so much for stopping by, dear Irene!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just some people get the joy of it, Dolly 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. True, and I love bringing joy into people’s lives!

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Doug Thomas says:

    I didn’t like raisins at one point, then realized they make oatmeal cookies (and bread pudding and rice pudding) all the better. It came as an epiphany, much like how I learned maths are useful when one day at work I realized I used an algebraic formula daily in my work but never thought of it as the dreaded algebra I hated as a kid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so funny – not raisins, but algebra!
      I used to hate it because I was good at it in middle school, so I was pushed to participate in all math Olympiads, while I needed time to practice for piano competitions. But this was communist Russia where one had very little choice. It took my mother a tremendous effort and a sizable bribe to get me sent to an arts college, whereas the Department of Education had me tracked into a math oriented high school. Needless to say, I still hate math.

      Like

      1. Doug Thomas says:

        Good grief! I hope you became a concert level pianist for your efforts!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was, until I damaged my left arm by over-practicing. Then I switched to General Arts major. I still play, of course, for my own and my husband’s pleasure. I don’t mind, though, because I discovered myself first as a writer and then as a teacher. I had an exciting and gratifying career, thank G-d, and I still teach college part time, as much as Social Security allows.

        Like

      3. Doug Thomas says:

        It is interesting how we work through life, isn’t it? I thought I was going to be a journalist or advertising copywriter (which pays better…!), yet I ended up working as a quality guy in a hose factory for almost 36 years. I hated algebra as a kid, but used it regularly in my work and finally “got it”. The analysis of data, application of what I learned from the data, and hose making in general turned out to be interesting, fun, and something I never expected to hold my interest. My college minor, geology, actually interested me more at one time than my major, English/journalism/advertising, yet that was supplanted by motion picture photography, my US Army job.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Life has unexpected turns and twists, certainly. The trick is to like what we do and do what we like, At least, that has always worked for me.

        Like

  10. Omigosh! 🤗 this looks so yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Mel!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. A fitting introduction to an appetising dish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Derrick.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Joëlle says:

    Hi Dolly, this is a great tribute to some of the people who have contributed to “make” America. My husband has just told me that “A raisin in the sun” is a classic that I absolutely have to read. Telepathy at work once again, Dolly: two weeks ago while in the U.S. I picked up Frederick Douglass’s autobiography in a bookstore and of course brought it back to France. I have just started reading it — very interesting. I always made sure my ninth graders in France learned about Dr Martin Luther King and his famous speech. I also loved to have them study the painting “The problem we all live with” by Norman Rockwell and tell them about the little girl.
    Your recipe is bookmarked for me to try with cranberries. It sounds delicious!
    Take care, dear neighbor!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your wonderful comment, dear Joelle! I makes me feel better when I realize that kind people all over the world emphasize with issues that are still plaguing this great nation.
      Have a great weekend, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The poem is touching, and the recipe sounds delish, I will save this for later, I love raisins!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Tiffany; I am so glad you like it!

      Like

  14. Delicious! I would eat the bread pudding mostly for the raisins, especially ones soaked in rum! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Ronit!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. “A Raisin in the Sun” is a powerful play, and particularly dear to my heart. I twice had the minor role of Joseph Asagai in high school. To clarify, I attended an all girl high school (LOL). ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, so you are intimately familiar with this incredible piece of dramaturgy – I envy you, dear Anna!
      Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Like

  16. Yum! This sounds delicious. In my mind, the only thing better than a raisin are two raisins. 😍 Happy weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL Thank you for stopping by, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    WELL-PRESENTED. WE DID READ—AND I THINK SAW THE TV VERSION OF THE PLAY! RAISINS—MY WIFE’S FAVORITE FOOD! <

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging and for a nice comment, Jonathan.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You needing to be lauded—I applauded! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You are very kind, dear friend!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Only expressing reality. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I thank you for a poetic expression!

        Liked by 1 person

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