It might seem a contradiction in terms to associate a recipe with the name of erstwhile chemicals giant Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI). I spent my whole professional career there and attended the occasional executive dinner at Warren House, ICI's training and conference centre at Kingston upon Thames, beside Richmond Park. Colleagues from that era still can't quite believe that the company no longer exists, but most of the businesses continue succesfully under new owners who are more clearly focussed and I won't attempt in this small space to explain the demise of the giant chemicals conglomerate. Suffice it to say that one of the culinary memories is of the Warren House Bread and Butter Pudding, illustrated above. I got the recipe from them and we've followed it ever since and passed it on quite a few times.
250mls double cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla pod
8 slices of soft white bread( crust removed)
2tb spoons sultanas(soaked)
Bring the milk, cream,salt and vanilla pod to the boil then remove from the heat. Beat eggs and sugar together in a bowl and stir in the hot milk and cream mixture. Butter the bread slices and arrange in an ovenproof dish, buttered side up. Sprinkle the sultanas between the layers reserving a few for the top then strain the liquid mixture through a sieve onto the bread, making sure it is thoroughly absorbed. Place the dish in a roasting pan with enough boiling water to come half-way up the side and cook in a preheated moderate oven (180C/350F/Gas4) for 30-40 minutes.It should be puffed on top and completely set.
You can experiment with different breads but this is one dish where much maligned ordinary soft white bread (Warburtons) seems to work best. You can spread warm apricot jam on top and sprinkle with icing sugar if you want to sweeten it further but I prefer the elegant simplicity of the unadorned dish. Serve with pouring cream and a glass of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. This serves four people generously
The Stuart Agenda by Alan Calder at willowmoonpublishing.com, amazon.com and amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble.