puddin’ and pie


I grew up eating a lot of desserts, and Mom loved to make puddings and pies—chocolate pudding, butterscotch pudding, tapioca, rice, and bread pudding, apple pies, peach pies, and cream pies. What a lucky kid! I have many of her recipes and a few from friends as well. I published the first four in the newspaper, and I’ve added some bonus recipes here to round it all out.

pumpkin bread pudding

The idea behind bread pudding is using up leftover or stale bread, but I never seem to have much of that lying around. So I usually buy good bread like challah (when available), Arnold, or Pepperidge Farms because it is more dense and doesn’t turn to mush when blended with wet ingredients. It is also important to dry the crumbled or cubed bread on a cookie sheet in a 250-degree oven for about 45 minutes. It tastes a lot better than stale bread.

I recently read a tip to make the pumpkin less “canned” and that is to cook the pumpkin with the spices in a saucepan for a bit to blend those flavors before you add it to the recipe.


  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 16-oz can plain pumpkin (do not use fresh)
  • 6 cups dry bread cubes
  • ½ cup Xante currants or raisins (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)


  1. Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan or dish. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients, ending with the raisins and nuts.
  3. Let stand 10 minutes. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Let cool 10 minutes before serving, Delicious with vanilla ice cream!

radio pudding

Mom never made this one. I got the recipe from a friend many years ago. She was Canadian and said it originated there, named so because someone heard the recipe on the radio.  It is probably a wartime or postwar dish. If anyone knows the real story, write to me at the paper.

Ingredients for the pudding

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the sauce

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 cups boiling water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9×9-inch glass baking dish.
  2. Mix pudding’s dry ingredients and slowly stir in milk and vanilla.
  3. Pour batter into baking dish and sprinkle evenly with raisins.
  4. Prepare sauce with ingredients listed, mixing well. Carefully ladle over top of batter.
  5. Put a cookie sheet in the oven before placing dish in case it boils over. Bake 30-40 minutes. Serve warm.

pineapple pudding

Never served as a dessert in our house, this is a side dish for Christmas or Easter and easily doubled if you’re feeding a crowd. It’s very rich and yummy and goes well with ham or pork especially. My oldest son always asks for it when we get together for holiday meals.


  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 20-oz can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 slices cubed, oven-dried good bread like Arnold or Pepperidge Farms
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 4 eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a glass bread loaf pan or casserole dish.
  2. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat well.
  3. Mix in pineapple, bread cubes, and vanilla.
  4. Pour mixture into dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  5. Bake 1 hour or till a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Kids will love this!

 helen’s streusel cream peach pie

I grew up in Philadelphia, and we had peach trees in our back yard. What a heavenly gift every year when bushels of juicy peaches landed in our kitchen. Mom would work for weeks putting up preserves and stacking peach pies in our freezer. In the dead of winter, we would enjoy the fruits of that harvest recalling warm days of summer baked into those wonderful pies. Well, with all this below-zero weather lately, I don’t think we’ll be seeing too many peach trees popping up through the sod anytime, so we’ll have to make our own memories and bake a peach pie that doesn’t require fresh fruit, but you can certainly use fresh if you have it. You can use frozen peaches, too.


  • 2 15-oz canned peaches packed in juice very well drained or 4 cups sliced fresh or frozen
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbs butter, softened
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs half & half, cream, or evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked pie shell


  1. Preheat oven to 425°.
  2. Arrange peaches in pie shell. Sprinkle with white sugar, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Beat egg and cream. Pour over peaches.
  4. In a medium bowl mix flour, brown sugar, and butter with your fingers till crumbly. Sprinkle over pie.
  5. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake till crumbs are brown and filling is set.

penny’s rice pudding

This is a classic rice pudding from a friend of my mother. A variation, if I’m feeling ambitious that is, is to separate the eggs, put the yolks into the pudding, and then beat the egg whites till stiff peaks form and fold them into the cooled pudding. It really lightens up the dish and make it seem more elegant somehow.


  • 1/2 cup rice (long-grain white is best)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 qt whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1  12-oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Nutmeg and/or cinnamon


  1. Place rice in water in a large saucepan with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, reduce heat to very low, cover and cook till almost tender—about 20 minutes.
  2. While rice is cooking, mix eggs, canned milk, sugar, and 1/4 tsp salt in a bowl. When rice is done, mix in whole milk, stir well, then add egg mixture. Return to heat.
  3. Over medium high heat, cook just under a boil for 25 minutes. Add spices and raisins if desired.
  4. Cool, then refrigerate. Pudding tastes best the next day.

chocolate bread pudding

Simply delicious with a minimum of ingredients, this is so easy to make.


  • 4 cups Half & Half
  • 5-6 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 9 cups 1-inch cubed firm texture white bread
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Generous pinch of salt


  1. Prepare an 8×8 inch square baking pan by coating bottom and sides with soft butter. Heat oven to 325°.
  2. Bring Half & Half to a simmer in a heavy saucepan, then turn off heat.
  3. Place chocolate, shaved or broken into small pieces, in a large, heatproof bowl. Add 1 cup of the Half & Half and stir to melt chocolate.
  4. In a separate large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Slowly whisk in chocolate mixture.
  5. Strain through a fine strainer and skim off froth. Reserve 1/2 cup of mixture.
  6. Place bread cubes in the large bowl and pour larger amount of egg and chocolate mixture over, folding gently so cubes are not broken up.
  7. Transfer to baking dish, spreading out evenly. Pour reserved 1/2 cup of chocolate mixture over top.
  8. Bake 50 minutes or until firm to the touch. Serve warm with whipped cream or caramel sauce.

sweets for the sweet

Red Velvet CupcakesValentine’s Day is coming up fast, so you might want to bake a nice sweet treat for your honey, your friends, or your kids. I’ve got two here—one is a bit labor intensive, and the other is quick and easy, plus your bonus recipe, Lemon Sponge Pie, not available in the newspaper. At the end of this column is a link to a PDF, so you can print out these terrific recipes and share them with others.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cake is not just a yellow cake with red food coloring added. It is actually a lovely chocolate cake dressed up for the big day. A Valentine’s Day classic, this makes 15 cupcakes but can easily be doubled for parties. Sifting the flour three times helps create the velvety texture of this cake.

Ingredients for the Cupcakes:

  • 1¼ cups flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Special Dark)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ bottle (half an ounce) red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Muffin tin cup liners

Ingredients for the Frosting:

  • ½ package (4 ounces) regular block cream cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbs butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ box (8 ounces) confectioners’ sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  • Chocolate chips (optional)

Directions for the Cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift flour twice before mixing with cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Sift flour mixture one more time. Set aside.
  2. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Mix in sour cream, milk, food coloring, and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Spoon batter into 15 paper or foil-lined muffin cups, filling each cup 2/3 full.
  3. Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into cupcake comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely.

Directions for the Frosting:

  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth.
  2. Spread on top of cooled cupcakes. Decorate with chocolate chips or fresh raspberries if desired.

Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Bars

Perfect for your Valentine and so pretty, this takes only 15 minutes to put together and about 25 minutes to cook. I rarely use boxed mixes, but if you’re a busy partner, wife, or husband, you get a pass. Besides, it is so good, you can indulge now and then. This makes 12-15 servings, so share with loved ones!

First, make the brownies:

  1. Mix and bake brownie mix according to package directions (most box mixes use water and an egg, and sometimes oil) I like to add a tsp of vanilla extract and a tsp of cinnamon to a box brownie mix for this dish, but it is totally optional.
  2. Bake in a prepared 13×9 pan, taking care not to over-bake. Cool completely.
  3. Chill a mixing bowl in the ‘fridge to whip the cream later.

Ingredients for the topping:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1 3-oz. box instant white chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 21-oz.can raspberry pie filling

Fresh raspberries, hot fudge ice cream topping, and additional whipped cream to garnish are optional.

Directions for finishing:

  1. In small bowl, combine 1 cup of the cream and pudding mix. Stir for 2 minutes until very thick.
  2. In chilled bowl, beat remaining cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into pudding. Carefully spread over completely cooled brownies.
  3. Top with pie filling. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before cutting. If desired, garnish with additional whipped cream, fresh raspberries, and/or drizzle with hot fudge ice cream topping before serving.
  4. A drizzle of chocolate fudge sauce on the plate before plating looks really nice. Enjoy!

lemonspongeLemon Sponge Pie

If you love citrus, Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to make a sweet, lemony pie for your sweetie or yourself. This is an original Amish delicacy, very popular at flea markets and Amish roadside stands. It’s so easy to put together, and it’s delicious. I love this with a homemade pastry crust but to make it easier, you can use packaged rolled pie crust or prepared graham cracker crust if you want.


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 Tbs butter, softened
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 lemons, zested then juiced
  • 2¾ cups milk, divided
  • 6 Tbs flour
  • 1 unbaked pie shell


  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Cream butter, sugar, and egg yolks together. Add lemon zest and juice.
  3. Place flour in a separate bowl and slowly mix in 1 cup of the milk, mashing any lumps, till smooth. Add to butter and egg yolk mixture, then remaining 1¾ cups of milk. Mix till very well blended.
  4. Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat with a stand mixer till stiff peaks form. Fold into butter and egg yolk mixture and pour into pie shell. Bake till firm and top is nicely brown.