I’ve been concentrating on the savoury stuff for a long time, but after posting the Victoria Sponge recipe the other day, I thought I’d give you another dose of the sweet stuff. Here is that great British classic, Bread and Butter Pudding.
Many people use standard “wonderbread” type sliced for this, and it works okay. As I prefer not to use that kind of “plastic” bread elsewhere, I don’t see why I should use it here. Go to a “proper” baker, buy one of their white sandwich loaves and get them to slice it in their machine for you – unless you are a samurai-master of the bread knife, you’re probably not going to get the slices thin and regular enough by hand at home.
As the Guerilla Griller, I am less concerned about quantities and specifics than I am about understanding principles and adapting them, so I’ll give you a rough guide for four and you can take it from there. A lot will depend on the size of your baking tin or dish: you want a fairly snug fit.
Ingredients: you will need, for four people
Enough slices of buttered (NOT margarined!) bread, crusts removed, to cover the bottom of your baking dish/tin in one flat layer, plus eight slices of white bread (approximately, you may need a little more or less), not too thick, also liberally buttered, crusts removed and each slice cut in half diagonally.
4oz/110grams white caster/fine granulated sugar
One and a half pints/860ml of good full-cream milk
A couple of handfuls of mixed dried fruit (sultanas, currants, raisins etc)
A good pinch or two of ground mixed spice
To sprinkle on top before baking:
A little more sugar (golden granulated is good here)
About a quarter of a nutmeg, freshly grated
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180C/350F.
Add the sugar to the milk, and whisk well until dissolved. You shouldn’t need to warm the milk to do this, but if the sugar is stubborn, use a gentle heat and let cool completely before adding the eggs. Whisk the eggs well, and mix into the sugary milk. Add the mixed spice. Here’s the best trick – add the mixed fruit to the sugary-eggy-spicy-milk mixture and allow to soak while you prepare the bread. This soaking stops any fruit on top of the pudding burning and getting that nasty bitter taste.
Prepare the bread as in the ingredients list. Grease a baking dish/pan with butter. Make a flat layer on the base of the dish with the whole slices of bread, then add rows of the triangular pieces, point up, until the dish is filled. The whole thing will look like a kind of surrealist sculpture of a choppy sea. Using a slotted spoon, strain out the soaked dried fruit and sprinkle over, pushing most down in between the slices of bread. Now pour or ladle the milk mixture onto the bread, making sure that every slice is well lubricated.
You can take it to this stage ahead of time (even the day before) and keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook.
Sprinkle over a little more sugar and the grated nutmeg. Put in the oven for 45minutes – one hour. Have a look after half an hour or so, and adjust the temperature if necessary. You are looking for the top to be golden and crispy, all the liquid gone, and the base to be light and fluffy – almost soufflé-like.
Serve with a little fresh cream drizzled over.
Good variations: the bread can be spread with marmalade or a good jam along with the butter – if you do this, leave it to cool for a good five minutes before eating, or you will burn your mouth! You could also go a bit posher than the typical “cake ingredient” type mixed fruit – use some chopped, dried apricots, apple, peach, mango or whatever you like, and you could also add some chopped nuts for additional taste and texture.