English Bread and Butter Pudding

Sultry blueberries are baked atop this feisty pudding!

Sultry blueberries are baked atop this feisty pudding!

I really hope you enjoy this recipe for bread and butter pudding, because Husband and I love it! It’s not soggy, nor is it tasteless – it’s actually delicious! It’s important to use stale bread for this pudding. Fresh bread absorbs too much of the custard filling, and the dish becomes soggy. In my experience, even stale white bread is too absorbent for something like this, so I used challah (egg bread) because it is a bit sturdier than white bread. I let the challah go a little stale, and then I unleashed my bread and butter madness!

The pudding is baked in a water bath, which makes for a very creamy texture. I made a raspberry syrup (trust me, it’s super easy – the recipe for the raspberry syrup is included below), which I poured atop the layer of bread lining the bottom of the dish. (You can omit the raspberry syrup, if you wish, though I strongly recommend keeping it.) Then came a second layer of bread, onto which I poured the custard filling, letting the whole shebang sit for about 20 minutes to allow the custard to soak into the bread. I couldn’t resist topping the pudding with blueberries, which remained whole but baked to a plump softness. Many bread and butter pudding aficionados caution against adding fruit to the dish, but I found that the raspberries and blueberries brightened the pudding and added a bit of complexity to the flavours. I sprinkled each layer with a TBS of sugar, ensuring that there would be sweetness throughout the dish. The dish wound up being sweet enough for my liking, and not at all bland. If you wish, you can reduce the amount of sugar sprinkled atop each layer, or omit the sprinkled sugar completely. Oh, and definitely serve this with some cream to pour over! You’ll dig it. 🙂

I did have one issue with this dish. The recipe didn’t specify what kind of baking dish to use, so I baked this pudding in my trusty, rusty soufflĂ© dish, which is 8″ across and about 4″ tall. My soufflĂ© dish turned out to be insufficiently wide for the pudding to bake as it is meant to; my pudding still had a liquid centre, when it is supposed to be firm all the way through. (The texture is evident in the photograph below.) It was still fantastic – I would make this again, even with my soufflĂ© dish – but I think a dish 10″ to 12″ across, about 2″ to 3″ tall, would be ideal for this bread and butter pudding. Think au gratin or wide, shallow casserole dish. I want to save you the frustration I experienced with this recipe, a frustration that could have been avoided if the recipe had specified the correct dish size. Omissions like that, which may seem trivial to the cook book author and editor but which really have a big impact on the finished dish, irk me. We’re not mind readers, we’re cook book readers! Strive for clarity! And, my dear readers, if you see something on my blog that could stand a bit of clarification, please tell me about it in the comments. I’m always striving to improve!

Not as firm as it should have been, but still damned tasty.

Not as firm as it should have been, but still damned tasty.

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English Bread and Butter Pudding

Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
7 TBS sugar, divided
6 oz. raspberries
1 loaf stale challah, or bread of your choice (enough to yield 12 slices), crusts removed from slices
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
9 egg yolks
1 TBS vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup milk (OR just use 2 1/2 cups cream)
5 – 8 TBS sugar, for sprinkling over each layer of the pudding
fresh blueberries for topping

Method:

For the raspberry syrup:
Place 6 oz. raspberries into a heavy cup or bowl.

Put water and 6 TBS of the sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar is completely melted and the syrup is clear. Cook 2 – 3 minutes longer to thicken the syrup. Pour hot syrup over raspberries and sprinkle remaining TBS sugar over the top. Cover with cling film or aluminum foil and let sit overnight. Do not strain.

For the bread and butter pudding:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cut 3 – 4 slices of bread into 1/2″ pieces, and spread bread evenly over the bottom of a shallow casserole dish (about 10″ to 12″ in diameter). Be sure to cover the bottom of the dish, leaving few gaps. Pour the now cooled and thickened raspberry syrup over the diced bread. Sprinkle 1 – 2 TBS sugar over the raspberry syrup.

Cut each of the remaining slices of bread in half diagonally, and then cut each half slice in half diagonally to create 4 even triangles per slice. Dip each triangle into the melted butter, and arrange on top of the raspberries, overlapping the triangles slightly. Pour the remaining butter over the triangles, and sprinkle 1 – 2 TBS sugar over the triangles.

To make the custard filling, whisk the yolks, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl until combined. Bring the cream and milk to a boil in a small saucepan, and slowly pour the hot cream over the yolk mixture, whisking the yolk mixture constantly to prevent curdling. Pour the warm egg mixture over the bread, making sure all of the bread is coated. Let sit for 20 minutes to allow the custard to soak into the bread. Sprinkle 1 – 2 TBS sugar over the top. Place the blueberries atop the bread, and sprinkle the blueberries with an additional 2 TBS sugar.

Place the casserole dish in a roasting tray filled with hot water halfway up the sides of the casserole dish, and bake until golden brown on top with the filling just set, about 30 – 45 minutes. (Baking time will depend largely on the size of your casserole dish.)

Remove casserole dish from roasting tray (this can be tricky, so be careful – I nearly scalded myself!) and let cool slightly. Serve warm, with cream to pour over the pudding and with fresh berries, if you wish.

Source: Adapted from Eating Royally: Recipes & Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen by Darren McGrady, 2007

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