Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bread and butter

Harvey had a tooth out today, so he needed something nourishing, soft and warm (but not hot) to eat for dinner. In the pantry I had a kind of small fluted Italian brioche, called a Pandoro di Verona. I bought it at Caffe Italiano in Cuba Street when they had two for the price of one. So I came up with the idea of using it to make a bread and butter pudding. In the days when Harvey could fit in pudding as well as his main course, it was one of his favourites and he made it very well.

The recipe comes from another book I bought in London in the mid-70s, and used all the time: The Pauper's Cookbook, by Jocasta Innes. It appealed to me because we had two hungry boys, but so little money left over for food after paying rent, etc., and also because it was so down to earth. She wrote it, she said, because "it stood to reason that there must be a good few other people in my situation, trying to conjure good food from limited cash, battered old pots and pans and kitchens more nightmarish than dream." That was me, exactly. You can double this recipe if you have a hungry lot to feed and a wide dish to make it in.

Bread and Butter Pudding
6 thin slices buttered white bread (she recommends cutting the crusts off, but we like the crusty bits, at least on the top layer).
A handful of raisins or sultanas plus (if available) a spoonful of candied peel
2 eggs and 1 yolk
400 ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Lightly butter an ovenproof ceramic or glass dish and set the oven to 160C. Cut the bread and butter into quarters or triangles, and arrange in layers in the dish, putting a sprinkling of the dried fruit and a sprinkling of sugar on each layer. Whisk together the eggs and egg yolk in a bowl. Heat the milk a little, add the vanilla essence, and mix it well with the eggs. Pour carefully over the bread and butter. Sprinkle sugar over the top, dot with tiny bits of butter and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

"Like most simple dishes", says Jocasta, "bread and butter pudding needs to be made with care...but don't give in to the temptation to use packed sliced bread unless you want it to taste like wet flannel." This was certainly true of British sliced bread in the 1970s - ours isn't quite that bad. But it does work best with a good white unsliced loaf, and best of all with some kind of brioche or pannetone - only then, of course, it's no longer for paupers.

I'm sorry, you're only getting half a picture because I was intent on feeding it to Harvey and scooped out half of it before I remembered to take a photo. Which is sad, because with the neat round fluted slices, it was the prettiest one I've ever made.

1 comment:

Suzieanne said...

Hi Anne,
I am very pleased that Harvey did not have any bigger portion or we would have to use our imaginations to what this lovely looking pudding is like.I remember it vividly from a little girl our Mum made it a lot,I suppose for the same reasons that you mentioned,