March 4th, 2013

The Girl Who Loved Maple Syrup

Easter Sunday, circa 1967, pre-Easter Brunch at The Loveless Cafe, Nashville TN

That’s me, the tall one with the goofy yellow hat and cat-eye glasses. To my right is my sister Carole, the stormy-eyed tough kid seething in her frou-frou dress (I hate puffed sleeves !) My hand rests on top of baby brother Jim’s head, The Boy, clutching his musical Peter Rabbit (here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail….) To my far left is sweet sister Barbara, demurring, (See, I really like my Easter outfit.)

This Brownie camera shot, no doubt taken by my mom, never fails to make me laugh. And not just because of our dorky of-a-time dress, or the family dynamic the image so aptly captures. It reminds me that sometimes the roots of your vocation are not obvious, but they are there, if you know where to look.

In this case, you’d have to look in that long plastic basket purse I was carrying.


Because it held a bottle of maple syrup.

Well, not this particular bottle, but you get the idea.

So, why?

You see, I was the ultimate picky eater, and I knew we were going to the Loveless Cafe for brunch. The only thing I wanted to eat—correction, would eat—at the Loveless was a stack of pancakes.

The problem, which I gleaned with horror from a previous visit, was that they served Karo with those pancakes. Ugh. The little pitcher was filled with corn syrup. My stack was ruined.

I was not to be thwarted this time. I ferreted a bottle of the prized maple out of the pantry and tucked it (despite the stickiness risk) into that mammoth purse, which I lugged into church and then to the tables of Loveless. Easter brunch was saved.


Pretty crafty, eh?

And while I grew up hearing and thinking that I was a pain and a hopeless food-hater, someone who lacked a refined palate, or any palate at all, I came to realize that the bottle of maple syrup tucked in my purse told a different story.


It gave a hint that maybe this girl who loved maple syrup knew more about food than she realized. I mean, wouldn’t we all prefer maple syrup over corn on pancakes?

I write this today with those of you in mind who are picky, or have picky eaters in your family. Don’t despair. Inside that person there could be a great cook or chef or lover of good food. It can take time for that to emerge.

Often the things we seem to most reject, are the very things we end up embracing.

Pickiness is just another step along the path.


Today’s recipe makes a simple but delicious bread pudding—sweetened with maple syrup—-but not too sweet. You could spark it with some cinnamon or nutmeg, or add more dried fruit. I kept it basic–maple and vanilla bean, with a handful of sultanas. I wanted the maple flavor to shine through.

Like all bread puddings, it’s a terrific way to use up stale bread. To me, It’s more of a breakfast bread pudding than a dessert, although it could go either way.

I served it warm with some yogurt and bananas (two other things that the long ago picky eater wouldn’t touch!) and an extra drizzle of maple over the top.


3 cups half-and-half
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1 cup maple syrup
4 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 stale baguette, cut into cubes
1 cup sultanas
soft butter, to coat baking dish

Pour half-and-half into a large saucepan. Add vanilla bean. Heat until small bubbles form along the edges, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow vanilla to infuse the half-and-half. Scrape the inside of the vanilla bean to get out all the vanilla paste. Stir in the maple syrup.

Place cubed bread into a large mixing bowl.
Pour vanilla-maple mixture over the cubes.
In a separate bowl, beat eggs and cream until well combined. Pour over the cubes.
Add the sultanas. Stir the mixture well.

Coat the bottom and sides of the baking dish with softened butter.
Spoon in bread pudding mixture. Allow it to rest and absorb for 30 minutes.

Bake in the center of a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. The bread pudding will become puffed and golden, and the custard will set.

Serve warm, with fresh fruit and yogurt, and, of course,

a pitcher of real maple syrup.


Posted in Breads, Breakfast, Casseroles, Desserts, Recipes

26 Responses to “The Girl Who Loved Maple Syrup”
  1. Teri Says:

    LOL A different verse on my own song. My own ‘pickiness’ was that food COULD NOT TOUCH. I wanted each flavor by itself. I’d eat just about anything… as long as it wasn’t touching anything else. Then I slowly started mixing flavors together. Now I have a very developed palate and love to blend flavors. Ethnic foods are pure heaven! ;-)

    And my Mom will still occassionally give me the eye as I put together a meal, and comment she’ll on my old ways and remind me how often she wanted to beat me! LOL

  2. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Teri–good to hear from you! Yes, I am familiar with that picky form too–aren’t you glad to be able to let food touch, and blend?

  3. Kitchen Belleicious Says:

    Okay where do i start! LOVE LOVE the picture of you! You are rocking that hat girl. I think it is hilarious that you wanted/needed your maple syrup that bad and I AM CRAVING this bread pudding. craving it!

  4. Heather Says:

    Going right out to buy the ingredients! Cool story Nancy!

  5. ernestine lawson Says:

    Nancy, the picture reminded me so much of the many
    of my children.
    Also, of Easter and all the special outfits this mom
    would shop for. There pretty dresses, lacy socks and pattin leather shoes. Oh, and their hats :) for my girls and then one special little son with a Spring sportscoat.
    Must try the Bread Pudding
    it looks delicious and so easy.
    Thank you
    once again for giving me so much pleasure
    when I read your entries…

  6. Tammy Says:

    Wow. This is a terrific post. Your photo is absolutely priceless and the backstory is awesome. I remember that we used to have Karo on white beans but I cannot imagine having it on pancakes. My husband would have been right there with you at the loveless and I probably won’t show him your magnificent bread pudding lest I have to throw one together.

  7. fluffy Says:

    I like to pour maple syrup on just about everything!

  8. rhonda Says:

    Love the pic, story and recipe. When I first saw it, I thought “Nancy looks just like her mother!” Didn’t realize the age difference of your siblings.
    Now, …..the maple syrup….Mrs. Butter-worth’s?

  9. Renee Says:

    The girl who loved this post…

    Is me!

  10. Teresa, foodonfifth Says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post Nance. I adore that photo of you, Carol, Barbara & Jim all gussied up for Easter. Definitely no puff sleeves for you!
    Your bread pudding looks divine, maple syrup and all.

  11. rhonda Says:

    I’m not a big raisin fan nor a baker…could I use chopped apples instead of raisins? Would I need to saute them or put them in raw and let them bake?

  12. rhonda Says:

    sorry for so many posts….just realized upon inspection that my childhood favorite (mrs. butterworth)…. is……..CORN SYRUP!!!!!! oh my.

  13. rhonda Says:

    my last post apologized for repeated postings, and that may be why it did not show up…but trying again because i am mortified to realize my childhood favorite maple syrup was not even maple syrup but flavored/colored corn syrup….alas, my palate is not very sophisticated.

  14. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Rhonda—first of all, yes, diced apples would be a fine substitute in the bread pudding. You wouldn’t have to saute them—the small diced pieces should bake fine.

    and yes, I did know that Mrs. Butterworth’s is corn syrup based—with maple flavoring. Log Cabin, my childhood fave, had 20% real maple syrup in it—back in the day.

  15. bellini Says:

    I remember dressing up every Easter in bonnets, white gloves and new coats. I was also a fussy eater. Thank goodness our palates mature and we learn to love “most” things.

  16. Barbara Says:

    This is such a funny post! I look back at those kinds of photos and can’t believe my mother actually dressed us that way. Dorky is the perfect word. I suppose we thought we looked stylish. When my 55 year old daughter looks at photos from her childhood, she actually remembers where we bought certain dresses. !!!
    If indeed I went with my mother on her shopping excursions, I have long forgotten. But I do remember we always had a corsage on Easter and I recall a particularly ghastly yellow wool coat.
    Maple syrup in your purse nearly broke me up.

  17. Julie Says:

    Pure Heaven – the picture, the story, the recipe . . . hope they all make it into the cookbook! ;-) Ongoing gratitude for these gifts you share, Nancy.

  18. Theresa Says:

    Nancy, what size baking dish would you recommend for this delectable recipe? Can’t wait to make it!

  19. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Theresa,
    I used a ceramic oval that holds 6 cups liquid. Most 9″x13″ rectangular baking/casserole dishes that are 2″ deep would work just fine. Happy cooking! I hope you enjoy it.

  20. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    Now that is what I call a great looking breakfast. People are tapping the maple trees in New Hampshire right now and I should have syrup from a friend before long.

  21. FOODESSA Says:

    Every year around this time we start looking forward to picking a new discovery in sugar shack destinations. The truth is…I mostly look forward to the quality of the syrup I’ll be bringing home ;o)

    Nancy, your recipe for bread pudding reads very tasty…and I can only wonder how come I have yet to make this type of dessert?

    BTW…funny yellow hats will now become the new trend…especially since everything old is always renewed with such flair. LOL

    Have a wonderful weekend,

  22. Juliana Says:

    Such a fun post Nancy…and I love the picture of you and your family…and this would be the kind of the breakfast that I would love to wake up with…looks awesome.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week :)

  23. Denise | Chez Danisse Says:

    Wonderful photo, Nancy. Your outfit is fabulous. I like your hat coordinating with your dress, your woven handbag, and your glasses.

  24. Amy (Savory Moments) Says:

    The worst is when restaurants use pretend maple syrup – yuck! I find that pretty much all of them do and being in western NY where we make toms of maple syrup it is almost insulting! Your bread pudding looks fabulous!

  25. Beth Says:

    I love the picture. I love the story! And you’ve given me new hope for my own picky eater.

  26. Nic@diningwithastud Says:

    Who needs other food when there’s Maple Syrup ;)

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