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.
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.