One of my absolute favourites, buttered bread soaked and then baked in custard. In a contest between Bread and Butter Pudding and French Toast, we see one of the rare instances where British cuisine triumphs. A great dessert made from simple ingredients, that can be made before hand, that can be made in large quantities with little effort, that can be eaten hot or cold; What more could anyone ask for?
- Milk (800ml)
- Eggs (6)
- Butter (80g)
- Bread (1 loaf)
- Raisins (1/2 cup)
- Sugar (1/2 cup)
- A day before, slice your loaf into 3/4 inch slices. You can’t use pre-sliced bread as the slices are too thin.
- Next we do the ‘test fit’. Pick a shallow pyrex dish than can hold at least 10 cups. Arrange the slices once in the bakeware so you know exactly how many slices you’ll be needing. Overlap the slices like a stack of fallen dominoes and use a left right arrangement, as shown in the photo below.
- Leave the bread in the fridge to dry out the bread, with or without the dish.
- Soak 1/2 cup of raisins in 3T of rum.
- Its now one day later; spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Use salted butter as a bit savoury taste is essential. Sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon on the buttered side of the bread. Be generous with the butter, nutmeg and cinnamon as they are what gives flavour to the pudding.
- Arrange the buttered bread in the pyrex, the same way as before. Scatter 3/4 of the raisins between the slices of bread.
- Lightly beat 4 eggs and 2 egg yolks with half a cup of sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir in 800ml of milk and any of the rum not soaked up by the raisins. Put the whole mixture through a fine strainer to remove strands of albumin.
- Pour the strained mixture into the pyrex. The bread will float even when its wet (ever feed swans in a pond?) but their arrangement will make sure only a small amount of each piece sticks out. If you ignored me and arranged them like a brick wall, some pieces will be completely free floating now. If you ignored me and used a deep baking dish, all the bread will gather at the top now.
- Let the bread soak for half an hour. You will need to gently push the bread (with your palm) down once in a while so they become totally submerged. Even though they float, the idea is to make sure the portions above the custard are soaked as well. If you ignored me and used thin pre-sliced bread, the bread will begin to fall apart now.
- Preheat your oven to 150oC (300oF).
- After the soaking is done, sprinkle the remaining raisins and 1T of sugar on the surface. Place uncovered into the oven and bake for about 40 minutes.
- The bread will eventually be seen to puff up and this is a sign the pudding is close to being done. Wait a while more and the bread should begin to brown nicely, that is when the pudding can come out. Allow the pudding to stand for a few hours before serving.
- Glazing the pudding is a nice extra touch and a chance to add an extra layer of flavour. When the bread puffs, this is the signal for you to brush on a layer of golden syrup, mapel syrup, marmalade etc. Place back into the oven after brushing on the glazing of course.
- The best bread to use is supposedly brioche, i.e. a bread with a high egg and milk content. If you are unsure, this just means any bread that is yellow. Any bread that is tough or is made from whole grain will not work.
- If you wish to serve the pudding warm, you still need to allow it to cool before you reheat it. I would normally serve warm B&B pudding with a vanilla custard sauce (made easily from custard powder).
- Some people swear that panettone, left over from christmas, is the best bread to use but i have never tried this. It helps of course that panettone conveniently has soaked raisins embedded in it to start with.