As a nation, we’re not particularly renowned for our cuisine… often finding ourselves the butt of many a culinary-related joke, but I don’t care. I think that we cook without prejudice and, as a result, have no qualms about creating some of the best fusions and adaptations from around the globe.
Take the classically British Bread & Butter pudding, great it might be – but we haven’t gotten prissy about trying it with croissant, panettone, or brioche… we’re happy to smear the slices with jam, marmalade and even nutella! (hmmm, peanut butter idea forming as I type…) – we’re not stuck in our ways and we’re not overly precious about our food traditions, and what good is cooking if you don’t get experimental?
Well, it’s still pretty good actually because I really couldn’t be arsed today.
I went for the classic variety of bread and butter pudding and it puffed up so bloody beautifully in the oven that I thought I’d share the recipe I used with you. The perfect bread and butter pudding should be crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the middle, custardy, full of plump, juicy raisins (none of those burnt ones!) and perhaps just a little kick of nutmeg.
Here’s how mine went…
Classic Bread & Butter Pudding (like wot Mum makes!)
10/11 slices of stale bread (use fresh at your peril, it will taste like soggy weetabix)
Butter (to grease and spread)
1 pint milk
4 Tbsp caster sugar
2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
1.5 tsp nutmeg
Grab an ovenproof dish suitable for layering the bread inside (I usually use the same kind of dish you would for a lasagne – not too deep) and grease it well with a knob of butter. Get your butter knife (the one that doesn’t tear the bread to pieces) and start buttering your bread! Some people leave the crusts on, but once buttered, I usually chop mine off and then half each slice diagonally. Keep the crusts to make into breadcrumbs for freezing, cube and fry them for croutons, or fatten up our already obese bird population!
Sprinkle a handful of sultanas over the base of your greased dish and place your first layer of bread, butter-side down, in the dish. Don’t worry if the bread doesn’t fit exactly, this isn’t an experiment in tessellation just plug as many big holes as you can before grabbing one of those Tbsp of sugar and sprinkling it over the first layer. Chuck another handful of sultanas over the top and arrange your 2nd layer of bread, butter-side up. Repeat the bread, sugar, sultana layering until you run out but DON’T sprinkle any sultanas on the top layer – they will just burn.
In a saucepan over a gentle heat, combine the milk, sugar, eggs and nutmeg. Whisk gently, the goal is to warm the mixture and dissolve the sugar – not cook the eggs, keep the heat very low and if in doubt, just stop cooking the mixture, I’d rather have slightly undissolved sugar than scrambled eggs!
Pour the liquid over the bread and squish each slice down to ensure that it soaks up a substantial amount of the liquid. Leave the whole dish alone for a good hour to let the flavours intensify.
One hour later, come back to the kitchen and preheat your oven to 200 degrees C (180 degrees fan). Cook the bread & butter pudding for around 40 minutes and marvel at how the custard has puffed the bread up a treat. Hopefully, you’ll have a crispy, dark-golden crust and a fluffy middle. Best enjoyed warm, perfect for the colder weather!
How easy is that?! Do you have a favourite Bread & Butter pudding variation?