(from The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry by Bo Friberg)
Yield: 1 pan, 11 x 9 inches, or 12 servings
Brandy bread and butter pudding is very rich; it must be left to soak long enough before baking for the cream mixture to thoroughly penetrate the bread. If you are in a hurry, or want a less rich pudding, replace the cream with half-and-half or milk, adding it all at once, and omit the soaking step. This express-method pudding should be served with plenty of the brandy-flavored whipped cream.
3 ounces melted unsalted butter
1 pound 8 ounces unsliced white or egg bread, approximately 2 loaves
6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 ounces granulated sugar
8 eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups warm milk
1/3 cup brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 ounces golden raisins or dried cherries
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces Streusel Topping
Brandied Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1. Use some of the melted butter to butter a baking dish approximately 11 x 9 x 2 inches. Set aside.
2. Trim the crust from the bread and cut the bread into 1/2 –inch thick slices. Place on a sheet pan. Brush the slices with the remainder of the melted butter. Toast in a 400°F oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool some and then cut into cubes, approximately 1-inch square.
3. Beat the softened butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs. Add the warm milk, brandy, vanilla, and cinnamon.
4. Place half of the cubed bread into the baking dish, completely covering the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the raisins (or dried cherries) evenly on top of the bread. Pour half of the custard slowly and evenly over the bread. Cover with the remaining bread cubes and press down with your hands to make the top level. Pour the remaining custard evenly over the second layer; press down again. Pour 1 cup cream over the top. Cover with baking paper and place another plan, just slightly smaller, over the paper, then weight down the top with cans. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours or, preferably, refrigerate overnight.
5. Remove the weights, pan, and baking paper. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream evenly over the pudding. Sprinkle the streusel over the top.
6. Bake, covered, at 350°F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake approximately 30 minutes longer or until the pudding is set and the top is golden brown. Let cool to room temperature. Cut into 12 servings.
7. To serve, set a piece of bread pudding in the center of a dessert plate. Spoon brandy-flavored whipped cream in front of the pudding. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar lightly over the cream. Decorate the opposite side of the plate with fresh seasonal fruit for color. Serve warm or at room temperature; do not serve chilled.