JOANNA'S FOOD: family cooking, from scratch, every day

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bread and butter pudding

There's a lot of leftover bread in this house this week ... most of two loaves of bread gets eaten at breakfast by ten oarsmen, which leaves a couple of slices. So, bread-and-butter pudding for dinner. Quick, easy, delicious - all the virtues.

This story is about the perils of following a recipe. I got out Tamasin Day-Lewis's Kitchen Bible. Very rich: 600ml of cream and full-fat milk with eight eggs. Eight! Diana Henry was more down-to-earth with two eggs to 600ml. I can't remember which of them thought that 300g of sultanas was a good plan for the 12-slices-of-bread + 600ml of custard. The sultanas needed soaking (in the leftover tea, ordinary strong Indian tea), so I measured 300g, then remembered I was doubling the recipe, added 300g more, thought it looked too much, glanced back at the recipe, and, reassured, got on with it.

Well, I could have made four b&b puds with that many sultanas! I put more than half of them in, but couldn't fit in any more. Fretting about this, I forgot to put any sugar in the custard (and only realised when I woke up this morning). But none of this imperfection seemed to matter: it was all gone in moments.

Bread and butter pudding
, for 6-8

Soak a handful or two of raisins - I used tea, but you can use alcohol. Butter stale bread (trim off crusts), and arrange it in a gratin dish. I used a mixture of white and wholemeal. Sprinkle the raisins over, and some finely grated lemon zest.

Mix two or three eggs with 600ml of milk and as much cream as you'd like. Add a little vanilla essence. Also some sugar to taste (!). Pour this mixture over the bread, and let it stand for a while (perhaps a quarter to half an hour). This takes care of last-minute panic when you're feeding a crowd.

Bake in a moderate oven for about 25 minutes, until the custard is set. Both the recipes used a bain marie (although they avoided the word, as it frightens people), but I have never bothered, without detriment. However, I did cover the puddings loosely with greaseproof paper so that the sultanas didn't burn.

Related posts

Home-made vanilla essence
A basic white loaf
Herb stuffing - another use for stale bread


Anonymous said...

Well, it seems that you had a success DESPITE the recipes! I adore B & B pudding and have a Michael Smith recipe which I shall just HAVE to do again tomorrow, thank your for the inspiration. :-)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Now what does that tell us about how much sugar recipes call for as well as raisins!

Joanna said...

Mmm, I think I'll look up the Michael Smith recipe, as he is generally good and reliable ... thanks for the tip

And, yes, Tanna, I agree - far too much sugar in most recipes. Salt too, now I come to think of it


Anonymous said...

I hate that - when recipies aren't adapted properly. I also think that common sense is an essential skill when following recipes - sometimes you know there's a good idea there, but you're going to do it differently.

Anonymous said...

I have made other variations such as using chocolate. Also apple and banana. Always good.

Anonymous said...

You've got to wonder about some of these books, whether or not anybody actually bothers to test the recipes out!

Glad it all turned out OK in the end.

Anonymous said...

Joanna, the recipe I use is from a 1970s Bon Apetit magazine, would you like me to post it here for you?

Joanna said...

TA that would be really kind ... I've just looked in Michael Smith's Fine English Cookery, and there's no b&b pud - it's perhaps a bit too peasant for a book of fine food ;)


Anonymous said...

Not at all peasant, quite the opposite in fact. Judge for your self:-

Michael Smith's Bread and Butter Pudding.

2oz softened, unsalted butter.
6oz seedless raisins or sultanas soaked overnight in 2-3 tablespoons of sherry, gin, brandy or whiskey. (Personally, I'd do it in the microwave on very low for a minute or so).
8 thin slices of good white bread, de-crusted.
4oz sieved apricot jam.
3 large eggs beaten with 2 extra egg yolks.
2oz caster sugar.
1/2 pint of rich milk.
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or pod.
1/2 pint double cream.
Icing sugar.


Butter a 9 or 10 inch round ovenproof dish with a little of the softened butter, scatter the soaked rasins evenly over the bottom of the dish.

Butter the bread and make four large sandwiches with the apricot jam. Cut each one into six pieces or circles with a small cutter. Arrange these, ovrlapping if necessary, around the edge of the dish.

Beat the eggs and yolks with the sugar. Bring the milk, vanilla cream to the boil.

Pour the hot liquid into egg mixture and mix thoroughly with a balloon whisk.

Ladle the custard over the bread pieces, gently to keep them in place. Leave for 10 minutes.

Place the dish in a bain-marie and bake in a 160C oven for 45-60 minutes or until the custard is just set and the bread lightly browned. (Personally I don't use the bain-marie).

Dredge with icing sugar and place under a very hot grill for few minutes to caramelize.

If you do use this recipe, please let me know what you think of it, it is my favourite!