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Joy of Baking

Bread and butter pudding with raspberries

(Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe)
By Sally Pasley Vargas
Globe Correspondent / July 28, 2010

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Serves 6

Bread and butter puddings are old-fashioned desserts, made with buttered bread and an egg custard baked just until the mixture quivers, so it’s light and tender. You can make savory bread puddings with smoky meats or mushrooms and sweet ones with fresh fruits. If you have a leftover baguette, slice it, bag it, and stash it in the freezer until raspberries are plentiful or you get to a farmer’s market. Defrost and butter the slices, then layer them in a baking dish with the berries. Pour the custard on top and bake the dish in a water bath. If you have not done that before, do not be intimidated. Set the baking dish in a roasting pan and place the two on a pulled-out oven shelf. Pour water around the baking dish to form a moat in the roasting pan. Slide the shelf back into the oven. The water acts as insulation and allows the custard to cook into a dreamy, creamy consistency.

Butter (for the dish)
4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 large baguette, cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 cups (2 pints) fresh raspberries
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Butter the bread slices on one side. Arrange them buttered-sides-up in overlapping layers in the baking dish, tucking half the raspberries between the slices. Scatter the remaining raspberries on top.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon rind. Stir in the cream, milk, and vanilla. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Press the bread down into the custard with the back of a spoon. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 day.

3. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

4. Set the baking dish in a roasting pan. Pour about 1 inch of hot (not boiling) water into the roasting pan. Bake the pudding for 50 to 55 minutes or until it is lightly browned and almost set. It should quiver very slightly in the center.

5. Remove the pans from the oven and lift out the baking dish. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes to let the custard set (it will continue to cook a little).

6. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or cold.