For christmas every year we seem to get given one of those boxed Italian sponge cakes with currants. Pannetone as it is called, is actually rather good lightly toasted with a little butter. But it also has one other use.
Bread and butter pudding is a British mainstay of the winter months, very thick and stodgy and leaves you feeling nicely full. But I thought I would give it an Italian twist, and use Pannetone for the bread.
Quick update: Now Christmas is behind us you can use the Hot Cross Fruit Loaf as a substitute. Available in all good supermarkets. And Waitrose.
So you need one large oven proof dish, like a lasagne dish, and one saucepan.
And the following:
Three quarters of a pint of milk and cream, gently mixed
Three Amaretto biscuits
One whole slab of butter
One vanilla pod
Slice the Pannetone thickly into slices and place into the dish. Slice the butter into nice equal pieces and slot them between bread slices. Next break down the Amaretto biscuits in a mortar and pestle and sprinkle them lightly over the bread and butter.
Set a hob to 180 degrees.
To the pan, add half a pint of milk and half a pint of single cream. Gently whisk together, don’t allow it to boil. Crack and add the eggs. Continue to whisk together for a minute until the yolk has broken up. Add a tablespoon of honey, a pinch or two of cinnamon and a little grated nutmeg. Now the dangerous bit. On a chopping board take the vanilla pod and split it very carefully with the tip of the knife. Scrape out the contents of the pod and place into the mixture. Stir together for about five minutes, so the flavours have had time to mingle.
Very slowly and evenly pour the mixture over the bread and butter, making sure you soak it all, even the corners. Cover the whole dish with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
The next day set your oven to 180 degrees and bake for 40 minutes, checking from time to time that it is going just golden. If it is blackening, reduce heat immediately.
Now take a look and make sure that the egg inside is completely cooked, it should have a few white bubbles along the edge. If you feel the need to, check the middle with a knife. If it looks runny inside, bake it a little further on a slightly lower heat.
Finally remove from the oven and allow to stand for about ten minutes. Divide it into portions and serve, if you like with a little cream or custard. The top side will be crispy and the bottom half should be nicely creamy.
So there you have it, an Anglo-Italian fusion dish. Not bad for the Midlands eh?