Monday, October 6, 2008

Have your way with bread - Estonian bread-soup (dessert)

Bread - dark, rye bread - is the cornerstone of the Estonian cuisine. During Soviet times (although it might actually be a traditional dish, I'm not sure) bread-soup was often prepared as dessert. My theory is that there were two main reasons for it - first, they only sold bread by the big loaf, so there was often bread left over, kind of on the border of going stale and no Estonian's conscience would ever allow you to throw away bread. And second - you couldn't really buy desserts or sweets or nice pastries and probably many of the ingredients for fancier cakes.
So everyone who's lived at least some bit of their conscious age in the Soviet Union has had plenty of bread-soup. For my generation it's probably a childhood memory, mom made it, it was served in the kinder-garden and in the school cafeteria.

So recently we decided that it was time to try and make it ourselves. As we didn't have any left-over bread we went and bought different kinds - the very dark black bread and some of the more sour traditional rye bread, just to make the bread-soup. This is how I made it (everyone makes it in a different way).

Estonian black bread soup. (Leivasupp).
~400 gr of dark rye bread (or combine sweeter black bread and more sour rye bread)
500 ml of plum juice
500 ml of cranberry juice
500 ml water
150 ml brown sugar
fresh milk for serving
nuts and dried prunes for serving

Toast the bread in the oven and then soak it in hot water and the juices until it's all mushy. Set aside some of the juice (about a glass) Blitz the mixture in a blender or using a mixer until it's all nice and smooth. Mix in the sugar and transfer the mixture to a pot and slowly bring it to boil. Keep stirring it all the time as otherwise it will burn. Also beware of the bubbles, as it boils, some big bubbles burst on the surface and it's VERY painful to get hit by a small gob of boiling bread, trust me. Add some more juice and simmer for about 7 minutes.
Let the mixture cool.
Serve with milk and some dried prunes and nuts on top.

It's very common to add dried fruit and especially raisins into the pudding, but I personally don't like any desserts where the raisin's have a chance to suck up the moisture as it gives them this toad-like quality that I'm not particularly hot on in food.

It's a really nice dessert and a relatively healthy breakfast choice as well.

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