The keys to a great bread and butter pudding have to be the egg and egg yolk combo, the cooking time and temperature of the oven. Too many eggs and it tastes eggy, too hot an oven and the mix will soufflé and split, too long in the oven and it will be too firm.
When made right, it’s a great dessert and one that should be on menus around the country. By the way, Paul Ainsworth doesn’t make a bad one at Number 6 in Padstow.
Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan)/300°F/gas 2.
Butter each slice of bread on one side only, then cut off the crusts.
Slice each piece in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. Lay them in a 30 x 20cm ovenproof dish, overlapping each slice as you go. To make the custard, put the eggs and egg yolks into a large bowl and add the sugar and vanilla bean paste. Whisk together to break down the eggs then pour in the milk and cream and continue to whisk until smooth. Pour as much of the mixture over the bread as possible to cover and set aside to soak for about 20 minutes – you won’t use all the custard at this stage. Keep topping up with more custard until all of it has been poured into the dish.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 35–40 minutes. The pudding should be bubbling hot but not necessarily golden brown.
To make the compote, put the cherries and sugar into a saucepan. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and pour into a bowl.
Dust the bread and butter pudding with the icing sugar and use a blow torch to caramelise the sugar or place it under a hot grill for a couple of minutes. Spoon into bowls and serve with the compote alongside.
Extracted from James Martin’s Great British Adventure by James Martin (Quadrille, £25) Photography © Peter Cassidy
For more traditional cooking ideas visit our British recipes section