This traditional British pudding has to be one of our all time family favourite recipes. I have made versions both using different fruits and replacing the usual everyday bread with more ‘up market’ alternatives, such as croissants, but we always come back to this one, which I make just as I was taught by my mother. There is one taste change to the original traditional version that I do usually make. I add marmalade to my bread, which gives a sharp orange-y background flavour, but this can be left out, of course, for a truly traditional version. I have been told that this is often called ‘Paddington Pudding’, presumably in honour of Paddington, the little bear from Peru who likes marmalade sandwiches, rather than simply the London railway station after which he was named!
I have never, until now, written down the method for making Bread and Butter Pudding, but it is very straightforward. Apart from adding marmalade, the only other change I make is that I usually cut the bread into cubes, giving a paved rather than overlapped appearance to the finished dessert. This was originally done to make the dish easier to serve since the top layer usually gets so crispy that it is difficult to dish up at table. In the end though, however it is layered, this dish is difficult to get wrong. It is best to pour over the egg mixture well in advance as this gives plenty of time for it to soak well into the bread, and give the best results. Of course, this is a perfect way to use up slightly stale bread: I slice the remaining ends of loaves and put them in the freezer until I have enough to use for this (or to turn into breadcrumbs for other dishes). For best results use good quality ‘bloomer’ type bread rather than a pre-packaged ready sliced loaf.
Paddington Pudding (Marmalade Bread & Butter Pudding)
8-10 thick slices of crusty bread, more if you wish (about 2 per person)
6ozs/175g mixed dried fruit
4tbsp white or demerara sugar (can be increased according to taste)
1tsp ground mixed spice
½pint/280ml milk (possibly a little more if needed)
½tsp vanilla extract
½tsp freshly grated nutmeg (for the topping)
2tbsp demerara sugar (for the topping)
1. For best results, this dish should be left in a cool place to allow the milk mixture to fully soak into the bread. All day or overnight if possible, but at least 1 hour.
2. Spread the slices of bread with butter and marmalade. It is not necessary to remove the crusts. Cut the slices of bread into cubes of about 1 inch/2.5cm.
3. Butter a shallow 9-10 inch dish. Place a layer of cubes, butter/marmalade side upwards in the base of the dish and then sprinkle with mixed fruit, sugar and mixed spice. Continue adding layers of bread, butter/marmalade side upwards, followed by mixed fruit, sugar and mixed spice, finishing with a final layer of cubes of bread, this time with the butter/marmalade side downwards.
4. Mix the eggs and the milk together and add the vanilla essence. Pour over the pudding, making sure the bread on the surface is well soaked. A little extra milk can be added if you wish, depending on how much bread has been used.
5. Add the topping of sugar and freshly grated nutmeg and place in a cool place or the fridge until it is to be cooked.
6. If the dish is in the fridge it should be allowed to come to room temperature before cooking.
7. Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4. Place the Bread & Butter Pudding dish in a bain marie: a second dish carefully filled with boiling water that comes to about half way up the sides of the pudding dish.
8. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 40-45 minutes, or until the top of the pudding is golden and the top crisp but not too dark. Be warned that this can burn easily.
9. Serve with custard, single cream or vanilla ice cream.
Delia Smith’s Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding (untried, but recommended by a friend)