Reading 'Recipes From My Mother's Kitchen' made me realise that not only had it been a long time between risottos, but that I had not made a bread and butter pudding this winter, either. Guy Grossi's recipe for making panettone, the fruity Italian bread for celebrating Easter, reminded me that last Christmas, when panettones were in the shops, I stocked up on these large buns and stashed them away in my deep chest freezer: for the sole purpose of making bread and butter pudding in the cold months.
Of course, it's called bread and butter pudding - invented, I believe, as a way of using up stale bread - but who makes it with plain bread these says? Usually it's fruit bread, spicy hot cross buns, even croissants. And I realised that I never actually spread my bread with butter, either. I think this comes from having such a pudding in London, many years ago, where the slices of bread were thickly smeared with rich, chunky apricot jam. It was a revelation. So now I use jam - usually one of mum's berry varieties. But let me tell you, Nutella and croissants is a magnificant combination.
This time, I didn't use anything, because the light, creamy-coloured panettone was studded with sultanas. Instead, I added a generous spoonful of Tia Maria to the eggy custard. 'Generous' means measure out a tablespoon, then think 'why not?' and add a slosh more. I have used Frangelico, I think with the Nutella (gild the lily? Moi?).
On other occasions, I have spiked the rich custard that soaks the bread with aromatic mixed spice (my favourite spice in the pantry); cinnamon or nutmeg would be just as wonderful.
So this is a sort of bread and butter pudding, made with neither bread not butter. You can infinitely tweak it to suit your own tastes.
Best bread and butter pudding
Adapted from a UK magazine, Ideal Home, dated Feb 2004. I used a 500 gram panettone, sliced up; basically you want enough of your chosen bread (sliced or roughly torn up) to fill a 1.5 l baking dish. Please experiment with your breads, butters and flavours.
- Butter a 1.5 l baking dish.
- Whisk 3 eggs, 3 egg yolks (freeze the whites for friands) and 125 grams sugar until pale. If you have a free-standing mixer, that's ideal for this recipe. Then add 1/2 tspn vanilla and if you like, that generous tblspn of Tia Maria or Frangelico. The recipe actually stated 1/2 tspn mixed spice.
- Meanwhile, put 300ml each of milk and thickened cream in a saucepan and bring just to the simmer, then whisk this into your egg mixture (you'll appreciate that free-standing mixer at this point) to make your custard.
- Spread your bread/croissants/panettone with your butter/jam/Nutella and pop into the baking dish. Pour over the custard and leave the bread to soak it up for about half an hour or so, pushing it down occasionally.
- When you're ready to bake, sprinkle the top of the pudding with chunky 'coffee sugar' crystals. Preheat your oven to 180, then pop in and bake until the custard is just set. The recipe says 30 minutes but it always take me longer, so please check. Cover with foil if the top's browning too much.
- This is wonderfully rich and custardy, but a dollop of cream is pretty good with this. And it's just as good fridge-cold.