When I suggested including an apricot bread and butter pudding in my cookery course at Ballymaloe in Ireland, I was asked, most tactfully, if that was not rather a heavy pudding for summer. I can be stubborn sometimes, and did indeed cook bread and butter pudding, of which everyone asked for seconds. Apricots not being available, however, I used fresh raspberries instead, which, when sprinkled with sugar and layered between the bread, cooked down to an exquisite, freshly flavoured jamminess. The puddings are best of all served warm.
Put the milk, cream and vanilla pod in a saucepan and scald. Remove from the heat, and let the vanilla pod infuse for 20 minutes. Remove and split the pod, scrape out the vanilla seeds, and return them to the milk. Beat in the eggs. Butter six individual ovenproof ramekins, and put a layer of bread, butter side up, in each, using the ramekin base or a pastry cutter to cut rounds of bread. Scatter on a few raspberries and a little sugar. Top with another round of bread. Pour on the custard mixture, a little at a time, letting each batch be absorbed before adding more. When all has been poured on, top with another round of bread, and let the puddings stand for 20–30 minutes before putting them on a baking sheet, and
Chopped apple, pear, plum, apricot, peach or stoned cherries can replace the raspberries.
At holiday times, when I buy the Italian yeast cake panettone, I use leftovers of that instead of the bread.
A simple variation on bread and butter pudding is to place small cubes of buttered toast in individual ramekins and pour a rich custard, sweetened with honey, over them. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, and then bake at 180°C / 350°F / Mark 4 until set and nicely browned.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.