Time to prepare: 20 minutes
Time to cook: 40 minutes
Drown bread in cream, then bake it. Let it crisp and ooze and squelch under your spoon. Bread and butter pudding halts conversation at the dinner table, only to be interrupted by snuffles and grunts – the good kind. If you’re using fresh bread, the custard won’t soak up completely and will leave you with a runnier b & b – though that may be what you like. Staler bread is much more absorbent, due to its lower moisture content, and will produce a far more spongy pudding. I sometimes leave the crusts on – texture rules this dish.
1. Lightly grease a 1 litre ovenproof dish or loaf tin, or something large enough to tower the sliced bread – bearing in mind that it will swell as it soaks. Butter the bread on both sides and lay one-third of the slices, side by side, in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with one-third of the rum-soaked sultanas and the hazelnuts. Repeat this until you have used up all the ingredients.
2. In a large measuring jug, whisk the egg and egg yolks. Mix in the milk and cream, then add the sugar, spices and rum (if using). When well mixed, pour over the bread, pressing the top layer down into the cream mix to coat. Set the dish aside for 30 minutes so that the bread soaks up some of the liquid.
3. Set the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Sprinkle the top of the pudding with sugar, then place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, until the top bread layer is golden and crisp. Best served with a wobble and a generous drizzle of single cream. Pretty good cold too.