In my opinion everyone deserves to spend a vacation, perhaps a long vacation, in London. That city has so much to offer with its history, amazing museums, art galleries, parks, theatres, nightlife and culture in general. I have always been fascinated by it ever since I was a kid. I went to the UK in the early 1990’s to take some English classes, to escape an oppressive job/lifestyle I had in Brazil and to just enjoy life!
This every-day, delicious, high fat and high cholesterol bread pudding recipe brings back good memories of the time I lived in the British capital. For a while I had a part-time job working as a waiter for a couple of catering companies. This job took me to some great places where I would not otherwise have been able to go. I worked in castles, mansions, fancy hotels, embassies, guilds, etc. Some of these spots had art collections that were simply breathtaking. These catered functions would have live music, recitals, dances and more! The work was tough but I really enjoyed it. A fellow waiter told me that a good waiter should be invisible while caring for the needs of the guests. Well, when I wasn’t playing the invisible man or snooping around these luxury palaces, I enjoyed watching the chefs and sous-chefs and their various assistants churn out incredible dishes for varied crowds of glamorous diners in industrial style kitchens. Everything was so dramatic and theatrical!
I’ve adapted this simple recipe from one that I saw a chef preparing at one of these events. This bread pudding has a very mild flavor and it’s not overwhelmingly sweet. You can add more sugar if you want it sweeter. Enjoy it responsibly! It’s a real gut-buster. I liked it so well that I forgot my own advice. I probably ate three quarters of it all by myself over about twelve hours; some for dessert and some for breakfast the next day. It was heavenly but, just like a good Catholic saint, I felt very guilty about it afterward.
Naughty British Bread Pudding
14 slices of white Pullman bread
24oz of half and half
Approx. ½ stick of butter at room temperature
1 vanilla bean pod
3 egg whites and two egg yolks
½ cup sugar
½ to ¾ cup raisin
Preheat oven to 350F.
Spread some butter on a glass baking dish and reserve.
Meanwhile pile ½ of the bread slices on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut crusts off of bread. Repeat process with the remaining bread. Discard edges. Butter one side of each slice of bread. Make one layer of bread at the bottom of your glass dish, buttered side up. Sprinkle raisins over it. Repeat process with a layer of bread, buttered side up followed by some raisins until bread is used up. Do not put raisins on top of final layer of bread slices. I made about three layers in my baking dish. If you use a round dish, like I did, you may need to cut the bread slices to the right shape to fit for flat layers.
Using a pairing knife, split vanilla bean in half, scrape all the grainy seeds out and place them along with pod in a medium pan with 1 cup of half and half. Warm liquid up till mixture has been flavored and air becomes permeated with vanilla aroma, about 4 minutes. Stir constantly. Turn heat off and add cold half and half to mixture. Discard vanilla bean pod.
Add ¾ of sugar to a bowl along with egg whites and yolks. Using an electric mixer, beat for a couple of minutes to mix well. Add vanilla flavored half and half. Beat for another minute. Pour mixture over bread. Sprinkle the rest of sugar over the pudding and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. To caramelize the sugar, broil for a few minutes at the end of cooking. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Try not to eat the whole thing in a single sitting!