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I first did a variation on this recipe years ago and served it up to visiting friends from New York – David (a Kiwi in disguise) and Rena. David’s previous experiences with bread and butter pudding had been the stodgy, soggy slabs served up in his childhood.

There are few things I have ever cooked that have had such a transformational impact! My recipe has been a staple of David and Rena’s Thanksgiving celebrations for years. Whenever I am in New York I am required to cook it for them myself.

And the difference? It pretty much boils down to using very good ingredients – and not stinting on the custard component so it is silky rather than solid. I use slightly stale good French bread and the egg custard is made from scratch.

I am going to have to remake this and take photos again. I had Lulu and John around the other night. John has always been a fan of custardy desserts – creme brulee, panna cotta, creme caramel. I am afraid it was half gone before it occurred to me to grab the camera.

The ingredients

15-16 thin (1 cm think) slices of slightly stale (1-2 days old) GOOD French bread. Not the plastic supermarket stuff. Don’t be tempted to chuck in more bread
Butter
1.5 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup plus 2T  sugar
3 egg yolks
4 whole eggs
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins

The process

Butter a flattish medium sized (lasagne type) dish. Thickly butter the french bread.  Scatter half the raisins in the base of the dish. Arrange the bread so it is overlapping on the base of the dish. Scatter the rest of the raisins on top. The idea is not to have bread stacked up really high Рas close to 1-2 layers as possible.

Heat the milk and cream until simmering. Meanwhile in a large bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and nutmeg. Pour the cream/milk into the egg mixture in a thin stream and keep beating. Pour the custard over the bread. You can allow it to sit for up to 4 hours at this stage so you can prep in advance. I sometimes grind a little extra nutmeg on top.

Place in 175C oven for approximately 25-30 minutes – or when the custard has set. My oven tends to cook a bit faster than others so you just need to check it. In theory, remove and serve at room temperature. In practice remove from oven, and allow to cool for long enough that your guests do not scald the roof of their mouths eating it.

Serve with cream.

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