Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding

After two days of leaden skies we need cheering up.  The kitchen beckons and it's too horrible even to go shopping for ingredients.  A rummage around unearths a drying end of pain de mie (sounds so much better than sandwich bread).  I know I have a pot of use-me-now half-price double cream in the fridge which I couldn't resist buying yesterday, and I always have eggs.  I keep a jar of dark rum in a cupboard which I top up with raisins or sultanas ready for times like these.   Perfect ingredients for a traditional English Bread and Butter Pudding.  Not to be confused with Bread Pudding, which is an altogether different dish, this dates from the early 18th century.

You can use left-over fruit bread or pannetone instead of bread, then the added fruit in this recipe would be unnecessary.  For me, best of all is to replace the bread with brioche which makes for a fantastically light and moreish pudding.  This recipe is based on that of Swiss-born chef Anton Mosimann, which he perfected in the 1980's working in England.  Mosimann became famous for his Cuisine Naturelle and still cooks in London.  This recipe is difficult to better, but having played with the ingredients, quantities and cooking times over the years I have been making it, this is my version.  Placing the dish in a bain-marie (water bath) ensures the custard mixture doesn't overcook.  It should have a slightly wobbly quality when you take it out of the oven.

Bread and Butter Pudding
(Serves 4)

170ml (6 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
170ml (6 fl oz) double cream
Half a vanilla pod
A pinch of salt
30g (1oz) unsalted butter
2-3 medium slices of white bread or brioche
2 large eggs
85g (3oz) caster sugar
A level tablespoon of sultanas or raisins, pre-soaked in sherry or rum but drained
A heaped tablespoon of apricot jam, mixed and briefly warmed with a level tablespoon of water
A little icing sugar

Preheat oven to 160C.  Butter a 1 litre/2 pint pie dish.  Butter the slices of bread/brioche and place, buttered side up, in the dish.  Scatter the raisin/sultanas over the bread.

Split open the half vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into a  pan containing the milk, cream and salt, then add the vanilla pod if you like.  Bring to the boil whilst you are mixing together the eggs and sugar until pale, remove the vanilla pod if using then add to the egg/sugar mixture stirring continually.  Pour the mixture into the dish (the bread will float and that's fine). 

Place a couple of sheets of newspaper in a roasting tin before placing the pie dish in the tin.  Carefully add boiling water to the roasting tin until it comes halfway up the sides of the pie dish.  Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. 

Warm the jam and water in a pan and brush the glaze over the cooked pudding.  Serve warm, dusting with a little icing sugar just before eating.