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Bread and Butter Pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding ( not to be confused with Bread Pudding) seems to have a long and honourable history. In 1845, Eliza Acton in her book "Modern Cookery for Private Families" provides one of the earliest recipes. The curious thing is that whilst the basic mix and cooking method have remained consistent there are now so many variants that Bread and Butter Pudding could be seen as a range of desserts rather than a single dish. The following provides the basic pudding ( which is ideal as a first venture at cooking for junior chefs in the making ) and some more experimental versions for the adventurous cook ! Most recipes agree that the important thing is to let the assembled pudding sit for about an hour before cooking it in order to let the bread swell and soak up all the lovely custard liquid.

4-5 slices of bread ( usually from large white loaf with the crusts cut off)
2oz (50g) butter
3oz ( 75g) currants ( or sultanas if you prefer)
3 eggs beaten ( some recipes just use 2 eggs & an extra yolk to make it richer)
300mls ( about 1/2 pint of milk )
The grated rind of 1 lemon
Optional 2 tablespoons ( brandy/rum/cream liqueur of your choice)
1oz (25 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg or cinnamon.

To make;
Butter the bread & cut each slice into 4 triangles
Grease a 1 pint ( 600ml) ovenproof pie dish
Arrange the bread in layers ( butter side up) sprinkling the currants between the layers
Beat the eggs, milk, lemon rind ( and the alcohol if including) together.
Pour over the bread and leave for at least an hour.
Sprinkle top with sugar & nutmeg/cinnamon
Bake for 30-40 minutes at 180C 230F Gas Mark 4 ( Don't forget to make it 10 degrees less if you are using fan assisted oven)

Serve hot with cream or additional custard.

To vary the recipe: substitute any favourite bread for white sliced including sliced brioche or panettone. Try adding a layer of marmalade or jam to the bread to make it sweeter and, if you are really feeling adventurous, why not try a savoury version. layering savoury bread with cheese and substituting mustard or ketchup for the sultanas. You could also include ham or other sliced meat. Use your imagination but obviously omit the sugar and lemon in this particular version.

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