Thursday, 22 August 2013

Bread and Butter Pudding

I'm not sure what's come over me recently.  I've been actively looking at leftovers and trying to work out what to do with them - I'm never that inventive or creative in the kitchen!   
Before you say anything, I KNOW that bread and butter pudding is hardly inventive but that's not the point.  I was more chuffed with the fact that I actually looked at some nearly-stale bread and thought, B&B Pud, perfect rather than my usual go-to of 'better turn the cat TV on (ie. feed the birds)!
B&B Pud reminds me of being little, it was such a warming, comforting, nursery supper type of dessert and no two versions were ever the same depending on what Mum had lying around the kitchen.  The smell for me is reminiscent of nights curled up on the sofa near the fire, watching a film with the cats by your feet and a giant mug of tea on standby.    Why on earth I decided I needed to make a batch in mid-August is a bit of a mystery but I was glad I did.

Apparently it doesn't invoke such heartwarming memories for a lot of people; during the 1990's this pudding had almost become extinct due to its association with really bad school dinners.

Trust me - this version is nothing like those sloppy, cold, chewy bowls of pale yellow mush you got at school.
I've had it with brioche, croissants, ginger jam instead of butter, fruit jam, chocolate chips, pieces of red berries, white bread, brown bread, cinnamon milk, fruit peel, the options are pretty much endless, all are delicious and all are easy and follow the same basic pattern.
All you need as a staple are bread, butter (obviously), milk, sugar and eggs.  After that, just experiment!  After all, it was originally invented as a way to use up leftovers and has been made in British kitchens ever since the 1720's (as apparently that was when the earliest known recipe for it was discovered).

This is British puddings at their most traditional.

Did you know that apparently the earliest versions were called 'Whitepot' and used bone-marrow instead of butter and could also be made with rice instead of bread, meaning that Bread and Butter Pudding and Rice Pudding share a common ancestry!
This version needs about 8 slices of stale-ish bread, buttered on one side and cut into triangles.  You arrange half in a greased baking dish, butter side up and then scatter the layer with sultanas (or chocolate chips) and then another layer on top using the remaining half of the bread.

In a pan you gently heat 350ml of whole milk and 50ml of double cream (if you are using it, otherwise just 400ml of milk) with 2 tsp's of cinammon, 1 tsp of nutmeg and 1tsp of vanilla (powder, extract, liquid, pod, all will work).  Warm the mix until gently heated but not boiling.
Crack 2 eggs into a bowl and add 20 grams granulated sugar and whisk together then add the egg mix to the milk mix and whisk to form a light custard.  Pour the custard over the bread, soaking as much as possible.

Sprinkle nutmeg and demerara sugar over the top and add some extra butter to any pointy bits sticking out to make them extra crisp. 

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 30-40 minutes until the custard is squidgy and the bread browned.  You may just want to sit near the oven and sniff during this stage as the smells that permeate out are simply divine. 
Serve hot with more warm custard (you cannot have too much custard with this dessert.  I don't think it is possible).  Add some jam as well maybe? 
It is pure comfort in a bowl.

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