Hubby and I were watching a recent episode of our guilty pleasure, Celebrity Masterchef, and we were amazed to see that the lovely Les Dennis totally messed up when it came to making a simple bread and butter pudding. Now I may never qualify as a contestant in any future series’ of Masterchef but I do know how to make a decent bread and butter pudding and have been doing so since I was twelve!
Not to be confused with bread pudding, bread and butter pudding is real comfort stodge at it’s best; a delicious combination of sliced, white, buttered bread, raisins and baked egg custard. Crispy on the outside while soft and creamy on the inside, it sounds incredibly basic but it tastes delicious and is one of my father’s favourite puddings. Not only is it inexpensive and easy to prepare but as in bread pudding, it’s a great way of using up leftover bread. It’s a traditional British classic and is usually served with custard, double cream or evaporated or condensed milk. it goes down a treat on a cold winter’s evening!
The origins of this great British dessert are believed to date back to around the early seventeenth century, although John Nott wrote down one of the earliest recipes for a bread and butter pudding in 1723. The poor – not wanting to throw out any leftover bread – would steam it with fruit or even meat. An early form of this pudding was known as a whitepot and could be made using bone marrow (yum!) and sometimes substituted the bread for rice thus initiating the process of another nursery dessert, the rice pudding. However, with the introduction of new foods from abroad, people became more inventive and started adding spices and various types of fruit. Milk, eggs and sugar soon became more accessible and affordable for most people and the pudding as we know it today was beginning to take shape.
The basic recipe remained the same until the latter part of the twentieth century when the popularity of this dessert was beginning to fade. However, many celebrity chefs who have a real love for British cuisine have revamped the humble bread and butter pudding, adding their own spin on a classic showing that many variations of this traditional pudding are possible.
Bread and butter pudding is still fairly popular today, although I have yet to see a classic version of this dessert in a restaurant menu. I have come across the brioche version which I suppose is a little more sophisticated and updated. Here’s a recipe for a delicious, classic, bread and butter pudding by Elaine Lemm. It’s so easy and tastes soooo good!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
- 50g / 2 oz soft butter
- 10 slices soft white bread, cut diagonally across or any of the other breads mentioned above
- 50g / 2 oz golden raisins/sultanas
- ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 350 ml / 12 fl oz milk
- 50 ml / 2 fl oz double / heavy cream
- 2 large free range eggs
- 25g / 1 oz white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste (see note below)
Grease a 2 pint/1 litre pie dish with a little of the butter. Spread each of the bread triangles with butter.
- Cover the base of the pie dish with overlapping triangles of bread, butter side up. Sprinkle half the golden raisins/sultanas evenly over the bread, then lightly sprinkle with a little nutmeg and cinnamon. Repeat this layer one more time or until the dish is filled, finishing with the raisins on top.
- In a saucepan gently heat the milk and cream – DO NOT BOIL.
- In a large baking bowl beat the eggs with 3/4 sugar and the vanilla extract until light and airy and pale in color. Pour the warm milk over the eggs and continue beating until all the milk is added.
- Pour the egg mixture slowly and evenly over the bread until all the liquid is added. Gently press the surface with your hand to push the bread into the liquid. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the surface then leave to one side for 30 mins.
- Bake the pudding in the hot oven for 40 – 45 mins, until the surface is golden brown and the pudding well risen and the egg is set. Serve hot.
Another great thing about this pudding is that you can vary the recipe in countless ways so you can have a different version bread and butter every day of the year and never get bored!
- soaking the dried fruit in brandy or rum overnight.
- using alternatives to sultanas or raisins. Dried cranberries and prunes work very well. My favourite are dried apricots.
- substitute the dried fruit for chocolate chips; layer some fresh orange segments between the bread, and add some orange zest to the custard for a yummy chocolate and orange bread and butter pudding.
- fresh fruit instead of dried.
- adding a splash of Baily’s to the custard.
- adding some cocoa to the custard mix to give your pudding a chocolate flavour.
- cinnamon-infused milk, vanilla extract or paste or ground nutmeg work well in adding flavour.
Who said you can only use sliced, white bread? And why shouldn’t you throw in some kind of fruit conserve or spread for added flavour? The following are examples of great flavour combinations:
- Brioche and apricot jam.
- Pannetone and orange marmalade.
- Granary bread and black cherry jam.
- Wholemeal bread with peanut butter, chocolate spread and sliced bananas (the Elvis bread and butter pudding!)
- Croissant and lemon curd.
Finally, you can use stale or fresh bread to make this dessert but I find that bread that is slightly stale gives a more pleasant texture.