My mother never prepared a sandwich, no matter how humble the ingredients, without first buttering the bread. When it became apparent, that not everyone came to school with a buttered bread sandwich, I asked Mom why she added the butter. Her response was both practical and esoteric, "Because it keeps the bread from tasting dry, AND because we're Irish."
When I stumbled upon this bread pudding recipe in an Irish cookbook, I stopped to examine it further because I was intrigued by its title reference to bread AND butter. I immediately thought of Mom, and her penchant for buttered bread. This simple recipe and the whiskey sauce, are proven winners!
In Ireland, bread puddings were born out of the thrifty-desire to find a use for day-old, bread. For a special treat, substitute a yummy, swirled, cinnamon bread. Be creative!!
1/4 cup golden raisins (optional, but recommended)
1/2 cup hot water
4 tablespoons butter, softened
10 slices white sandwich bread
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs, beaten
1 large package of vanilla pudding (cook and serve), prepared according to directions on box
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 inch square baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the raisins and water, and soak for 10 minutes.
Butter the bread, remove the crusts, and cut each slice in half diagonally. Arrange half of the bread, buttered-side-up, in the prepared pan. Drain the raisins, and sprinkle them over the bread. Top with remaining bread slices.
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, cream, vanilla, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Cook over medium heat, just until mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat, and whisk in eggs, one at a time (whisk quickly so eggs don't cook in the hot milk). Pour the custard over the bread, and let soak for 10 minutes before baking.
To bake, cover the dish with aluminum foil, and place it inside a larger baking, or broiler pan. Place all inside the oven. Carefully add hot water to the large baking pan, to reach two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pudding dish. Bake until the custard is set, 50 to 55 minutes. When done, carefully remove pudding from the water.
Scoop the warm pudding into decorative glass dessert dishes, and spoon the Whiskey sauce over the top.
Sauce: Whisk the Irish whiskey, into the prepared vanilla pudding (I've made my own for this recipe, but it's hardly worth the effort it takes to keep the homemade pudding from curdling) until smooth. Serve warm or at room temperature.