There are certain magical evenings that you come back to you in your mind again and again. Last Saturday night was memorable for sparkling conversation with excellent people, good wine, a table underneath the stars and my friend Clive's Persian feast: Rice with tadig, grilled artichokes and carrots, Ottolenghi tomatoes stuffed with olives, capers, herbs & breadcrumbs, grilled lamb chops, and the most heavenly raspberry bread and butter pudding. Clive has very kindly agreed to share his recipe. You may also want to visit his brilliant Cookbook Recipe Database.
6 4.5" ramekins
I cup sugar, plus extra for the top
12 slices of bread
4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 vanilla pod
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup full milk
2 egg yolks
1 lb raspberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Using a circular pastry cutter, the size of the inside of the ramekin, cut circles from the bread slices. In 6 of the circles cut a smaller circle, about 1/2 inch diameter or the the size of one of the raspberries. Butter the slices on both sides and use the remaining butter to coat the insides of the ramekins. Into the bottom of each ramekin place one of the bread circles without the holes.
Pour the cream and milk into a pan. Split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Put the seeds and the two halves of the pod into the pan. Bring it almost to a boil and then remove from the heat and leave to cool and infuse for about 30 minutes. (If you don’t have a vanilla pod you can use a tablespoon of vanilla extra and skip the infusion stage. You could also try nutmeg or ground cardamom)
In a large bowl whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar so they are completely blended. Remove the vanilla pod from the cream mixture and pour it over the egg and sugar mixture, whisking until you have a smooth and well blended custard. Pass the custard through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl.
Place enough raspberries to cover the bread slices in the bottom of the ramekins and push them down gently with the back of a spoon (it doesn’t matter if they break). Place the bread slices with the holes on top of the layer of raspberries. Gently pour the custard over the bread, giving it time to soak all the way to the bottom and into the bread. Wait a few minutes then top off each pudding until the cream reaches just below the top slice. Place a single raspberry into the hole and sprinkle a little sugar over top of each pudding.
Place the ramekins onto a baking tray and place them into the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is a lovely golden brown and the edges of the bread look slightly burnt (the puddings will rise a little above the top of the ramekin while they are in the oven but once you have taken them out they will settle back down).
Serve with a spoon of whipped mascarpone cream on top.