Pedro “PoP” Aguon’s World Famous Bread Pudding

Pedro Aguon, affectionately known to his family and friends as “PoP”, was a decorated Navy veteran and a Pearl Harbor survivor.

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Pedro "PoP" Aguon

Pedro “PoP” Aguon

According to PoP’s daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon, “PoP was a personal Master Chef for 11 Navy Admirals. One of the admirals was James Morrison (yep, the father of Jim Morrison of the Doors).  This was Jim’s all time favorite dessert that PoP would spoil the family with.  It is famous wherever it is served.  Word has it that a chef in New Orleans actually has PoP’s World Famous Bread Pudding on his 5 Star Restaurant Menu.”

PoP was an inspiration to many, not just for his service to our nation, but for his love of life.  This recipe posting is dedicated to PoP’s memory, and to his desire to keep the Chamorro culture alive through the sharing of one our island’s treasures ~ our food.

Rest in Peace, PoP.  You are greatly missed.


PoP Aguon’s World Famous Bread Pudding

Recipe by Pedro “PoP” Aguon
as shared by his daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon
PoP Augon's World Famous Bread Pudding

PoP Augon’s World Famous Bread Pudding


PoP’s daughter, Arlene, says this about making PoP’s World Famous Bread Pudding:

“Please note that my father DID NOT measure his ingredients, so I am attempting to record what I saw.  He usually prepared a huge banquet sized pan of pudding for our gatherings so you can downsize as needed.

An IMPORTANT PoP Aguon SECRET:  for 1 cup of cubed bread, use 1 cup whole milk, 1 egg, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  This will be the foundation for your bread pudding custard base.”


1 loaf of FRESH bread (white, wheat, whole grain, according to your taste).  Break it down to small 1/2 inch cubes or torn pieces.  Lay the bread pieces in a prepared buttered or Smart Balance/Pam sprayed heavy pan.  (One loaf = 12 cups of bread pieces).

Bread Pudding Base:
  • 12 cups of cubed/torn bread (layered loosely in your pan)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 12 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of butter or margarine
  • 1 cup of sugar or more to your taste
  • 1/4 cup of pure vanilla extract (don’t use imitation)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Custard Topping:
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 6 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon or nutmeg
Directions for Bread Pudding Base:

1.  Slowly beat your eggs, butter, salt and gradually add your milk and mix until fully incorporated.  Add your vanilla.  Gently pour your wet custard solution over your bread in the pan.  IMPORTANT:  Do not push down the bread.  Let the bread NATURALLY soak up the wet mixture for at least 15-20 minutes.

2.  Place the pan in a pre-heated oven set at 350 degrees.  Bake for an hour and a half.  Your bread pudding base will puff up to a soufflé texture.  DO NOT PIERCE OR TOUCH!  The soufflé texture will be jiggly.  Remove and set on a rack to cool.  As the bread base cools the soufflé texture will start to compact and settle.

Directions for Custard Topping:

1.  Whip the eggs, sugar, cornstarch, 1 cup of milk, butter, and salt in your blender or with an electric mixer.  Meanwhile, in a heavy saucepan on low heat, warm the rest of your milk on a low setting (DO NOT SCALD your milk on a high setting).  Gradually add your mixture into the warm milk and constantly stir, so your eggs will be tempered.  Stir from the sides and bring to the middle of your saucepan to prevent lumping.

2.  Once the custard starts to thicken and bubble, cook to the desired consistency. PoP did not make his custard thick like Latiya.  He made it a little runny so it will seep into every nook and crevice of the bread pudding base.  Remove from heat and add your vanilla extract.  Cool for at least 15 minutes then pour the custard over the bread pudding base.  Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and ENJOY.


Yeast Donuts

Yeast donuts are another favorite treat in my house.  Why wouldn’t it be?  Who doesn’t loved fried dough that’s rolled in sugar?  Uhh…NO one!  🙂

I remember when I was a kid, some neighbors would sell these sweet treats door-to-door.  We’d always buy a bag full!  Now my kids are learning to make these themselves.  They’re so delicious when eaten right after taking them out of the hot oil and rolling them in a bowl of sugar (cinnamon sugar is delicious too)!

Give these a try and let me know how you like them.


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  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • Oil, for frying
  • 1/2 cup sugar, for coating the donuts
  • Optional:  1 tablespoon cinnamon, for making cinnamon sugar


1.  Heat the water in a microwave-safe measuring cup for about 30 seconds.  The water should feel warm to the touch (like the temperature of your skin).  Stir in the tablespoon of sugar and yeast.  Set it aside for about 5 minutes.  *Note: The yeast should have more than doubled in volume from all the bubbles.  If you don’t see a lot of bubbles, your yeast wasn’t “active” anymore and you should start this step over.

2.  In a mixing bowl, beat the egg then add the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar.

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3.  Slowly mix in half of the flour to the egg mixture.  Add the yeast mixture and mix well. Gradually add the remaining flour.  The dough should begin to leave the sides of the bowl but it will still be a bit sticky.  After you’ve added all of the flour and the dough has not left the sides of the bowl, add up to 3/4 cup of flour (don’t use more than 3/4 cup), a spoonful at a time, until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl.  Once the dough leaves the sides of the bowl, switch from the paddle to the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer.

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4.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Do not add more flour or it will make the dough tough.  If you’re kneading the dough by hand, if the dough is sticking to your hands, lightly spray your hands with cooking spray.

5.  Lightly oil (or use cooking spray) another bowl. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it in the greased bowl, turning it around so all sides are greased. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and place in a warm place to rise. You want to let it rise until the dough doubles in size (about 1-2 hours, depending on how warm the room/area is).

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6.  After the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl.  Lightly punch down the dough.  Divide the dough into small pieces. At this point, you can either form rings, twists, or donut “holes”.  Place the formed donuts onto a greased pan.  Cover with a clean cloth and let them rise again for about 30 minutes.

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7.  Heat your oil.  Carefully lift up each piece of dough.  Lower into the hot oil and fry until golden brown.

8.  Remove from the oil, place on paper towels to allow to drain for a few seconds, then roll the donuts in sugar while still hot.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

Homemade Pretzels

I love those pretzels you buy at the mall, you know the kind I’m talking about.  The ones that are either coated in cinnamon sugar, or the ones with salt that you can dip into creamy, melted cheese sauce.  YUM!

After searching the internet for good (easy) recipes for homemade pretzels, I came up with this version based upon many different variations. It’s somewhat sweeter than the kind you buy at the mall, but it’s oh-so-soft and buttery! I’m sure you’ll like it! Give my recipe a try! 🙂



  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm water (between 98-105 degrees)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons melted butter

Baking Soda Bath:

  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Optional toppings:

  • More melted butter
  • Cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons cinnamon)
  • Kosher salt (as much as you like)
  • Parmesan cheese and garlic powder (sprinkle on as much as you like)


1.  Mix together 2 packets of active yeast (rapid rise yeast is okay) with 1 1/4 cups warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Let it sit for 10 minutes to proof. You know your yeast is still alive (active) when it begins to bubble.

2.  In a mixing bowl, mix together 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 cup sugar.

3.  Add to the flour mixture 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Pour the yeast mixture into the mixing bowl.

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4.  Using a dough hook attachment of a stand mixer, mix the dough together. The dough should start to come together after a few seconds and begin to pull away from the side of the mixing bowl. After mixing for about a minute, the dough should have come away from the sides of the bowl. Look inside the bowl; if you still have bits of flour at the bottom that isn’t getting mixed in, add water, a teaspoon at a time (you should not need to add more than 3 teaspoons) until all of the flour gets incorporated into the rest of the dough.

5.  Turn the mixer speed up to medium-high and knead it for 5 minutes.

6.  Prepare a clean bowl by smearing the sides with butter or spraying it with butter spray. I recommend using a glass bowl so you can see how much the dough has risen. Place the dough inside the glass container, turning it around so that you coat the ball of dough with butter. This is to keep the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the dough in a warm place to rise until doubled (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on how warm it is). You can place it inside your oven with the oven light turned on. You can also microwave about 2 cups of water until it starts to boil. Leave the boiling water inside the microwave then place your bowl of dough in the microwave. The steam and heat from the hot water will turn your microwave into a perfect warm place for the dough to rise.

7.  When the dough is just about doubled, prepare your soda bath. This is necessary to get your pretzels to have the nice dark brown coating on the outside. To prepare the baking soda bath, mix together 4 cups of boiling water with 1/2 cup baking soda.

8.  After the dough has doubled in size (after about 90 minutes), turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Cut the dough into roughly 12 small pieces.

9.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

10.  Recruit your kids to shape the dough into pretzels. This is the fun part! After shaping the dough into pretzels (and pretzel bites as shown in this photo), dip the dough into the baking soda bath. Let the dough soak in the baking soda bath for at least 10 seconds then place it on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.

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11.  Top the pretzels with kosher salt (optional) or leave it plain. Other options for toppings:

~ Raw sugar (also called turbinado sugar)

~ A mixture of parmesan cheese and garlic powder.

~ For cinnamon-sugar coated pretzels, melt butter in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons cinnamon.

12.  Bake the pretzels for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on top. Brush the freshly baked pretzels with melted butter after coming out of the oven. You can top it with more toppings at this point (kosher salt, cinnamon-sugar, garlic-parmesan, etc.).  ENJOY!

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French Toast

There is something about the sweet smell of cinnamon and vanilla toasting up that makes you want to devour whatever is cooking. French Toast…it’s a favorite breakfast in our home. Actually, it’s a favorite any time of day, really! It’s a simple recipe, but my teenaged daughter puts her own spin on it, originally inspired by a neighbor friend of ours from when we lived in Seoul, Korea years ago. Give Hannah’s recipe a try. I know you’ll love it!

Hannah’s French Toast



  • 8 slices Texast Toast
  • 1 1/2 cups French Vanilla coffee creamer (or your favorite flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Butter
  • Maple Syrup
  • Whipped cream


1. In a shallow bowl, mix together the creamer, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

2. Dip each slice of bread in the batter, just a few seconds on each side will do.


3. Fry in a buttered pan until browned on each side.

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4. Serve while still hot, topped with more butter, a drizzle of maple syrup, and topped with whipped cream.




Pumpkin Turnovers (Pastit or Buchi Buchi)

This is one of my most favorite desserts.  It’s a turnover filled with a sweet, cinnamon-flavored pumpkin jam.  In Chamorro, Pastit is the term for a baked turnover. Buchi Buchi is the term for fried turnovers.


Pastit ~ Baked Pumpkin Turnovers

My mom used to make this for us all the time, only she used fresh pumpkins instead of canned.  Making pumpkin jam with fresh pumpkins took hours!  However time consuming that whole process was, that’s the way to do it–fresh is always best, in my opinion.

Using canned pumpkin has its advantages.  You can make Pastit any time of year if you used canned pumpkin (provided the grocery stores have it in stock).  I remember one year when you couldn’t find a can of pumpkin anywhere!  But I digress….This dessert can be enjoyed year-round is my point; you don’t have to wait for fall to bake up a batch of these delicious treats.

My dad loves these turnovers, but his favorite filling is made with papaya–the green kind, not the ripe ones.  You really can’t make a papaya jam with the right consistency if you use ripe papayas.  In Chamorro, preparing papaya this way is called Konsetba.  Konsetba is also used to refer to candied young (green) papaya.

I do have one daughter who won’t touch this with a 10-foot pole.  It’s something about the fact that pumpkin is an ingredient and it just isn’t right eating a vegetable pie for dessert.  No matter how many times I tell her it’s technically a fruit, she won’t have it.

More for us, I say.  🙂

Give my recipe a try. I think you’ll like it!  🙂

Pumpkin Turnovers (Pastit or Buchi Buchi)

My recipe makes between 12-15 turnovers.



  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 stick butter (for especially flaky dough, use 2 sticks of butter, but freeze it prior to making your dough, and work fast so the heat from your hands doesn’t melt the butter while you handle the dough)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup ice-cold water
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  • 1 small can pumpkin purée (do not use pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


Make the pumpkin jam:

1.  Drain the pumpkin overnight to remove excess water; pour the contents into a fine mesh strainer, then set the strainer over a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  In the morning, most of the water will have drained out.  Instead of draining overnight, you can also heat the pumpkin over low heat, stirring constantly; cook until there isn’t much steam left rising from the pumpkin (an indication that most of the water has evaporated).

2.  In a separate pan, melt the sugar until browned; stir often to keep the sugar from burning.  Add the drained or heated pumpkin to the melted sugar. Add cinnamon (add more or less to taste).

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*Note: When you add the pumpkin to the melted sugar, it might SIZZLE like crazy! This is because the caramelized sugar is reacting to any remaining water in the pumpkin. When you mix the two, the sugar will actually harden and look like candy. At this point, turn your heat down to low and cover your pot; cook the pumpkin jam until all the hardened sugar has melted. Stir frequently to prevent the bottom from burning. Allow the jam to cool completely before filling the dough.

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Make the crust:

1.  Combine the dry ingredients for the crust.  Cut the butter into the flour until you get tiny bits of butter mixed with the flour.

There are several ways to do this:  you can use a pastry cutter, or if you don’t have a pastry blender, you can use two butter knives and literally cut the butter into the flour mixture.  You can also use a food processor.  Here is a neat idea I learned from a cooking show — freeze your stick of butter, then grate it using the largest holes of a box grater.  Lightly mix the grated butter into the flour then place the bowl into the freezer for a few minutes to get the butter to be really cold again before adding the water.

The thing to remember is that the butter should be as cold as possible when you do this (frozen butter is even better); having little bits of butter mixed in with the flour is key to a flaky crust.

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2.  Add cold water to the flour-butter mixture, a few spoonfuls at a time, and gently mix (or pulse in a food processor).  Stop adding water when the mixture starts to stick together and forms a dough.  How can you tell if it’s enough water?  Scoop some of the mixture into your hand then squeeze it together.  If the mixture holds its shape (no crumbs fall off), then you added enough water.  DO NOT knead the dough at this point.  You don’t want to handle the dough too much, and you most certainly want to make sure you still see bits of butter in the dough.

3.  Make golf ball sized pieces dough; use a rolling pin to flatten each ball into a thin circle.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of pumpkin filling to the center of the dough; spread the filling out to about 1/2 inch from the edge. Fold the dough over and seal edges by pressing down on it with a fork.

4.  Optional: brush the tops of the turnovers with a beaten egg then sprinkle liberally with turbinado sugar (also called sugar in the raw).

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

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*For buchi buchi (a fried version), decrease the amount of butter (use only 1 stick); follow the rest of the recipe instructions.  Deep-fry each turnover until golden brown.


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