A fantastically wintry pudding of lightly spiced custard soaked buttery bread, layered with boozy rum raisins and topped with crunchy sugar. It’s a great way to use up bread that’s past its best. You can also bake this in a lined cake tin for an alternative shape to a rectangular baking dish.
If you’re really pushing the boat out make double the quantity of custard and reserve the extra half to serve hot on the pudding at the end on special occasions, but this is incredibly rich. I like to serve it after Sunday lunch with vanilla ice cream and pouring cream on top.
Soak the raisins and orange zest in the dark rum overnight, or for at least a couple of hours beforehand.
Preheat your oven to 180°C, and butter a rectangular baking dish (you can also make this in a 22cm springform cake tin lined with baking parchment).
Butter the slices of bread. Place a layer in the bottom of the dish, sprinkle with rum soaked raisins, and place another layer of bread on top. Repeat this, layering the bread and the soaked fruit, until you reach the top of the dish. Finish with a sprinkling of raisins.
Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Make the crème anglaise. Heat the cream in a saucepan with the nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla seeds plus the pod (to infuse) until just under the boil.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar, until they turn a pale yellow. Pour half of the cream over the egg and sugar mix and incorporate with a balloon whisk, stirring constantly. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.
Transfer the mixture back into the pan over the heat with the rest of the cream. Stir gently with the whisk over a low-medium heat until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Keep whisking to prevent it sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan. Don’t let it get too hot or the eggs will curdle.
Remove the pan from the heat, and leave to cool in a bowl of ice-cold water to prevent the custard from over-cooking. Strain it through a sieve if there are any lumps, to achieve a smooth texture.
Pour about three-quarters of the custard over the bread and leave it to soak for 30 minutes, to allow the bread to absorb it. Top up with the remaining custard, and sprinkle the top liberally with Demerara sugar. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a deep golden brown. Let the cake sit for 12 minutes or so before slicing and serving. Eat while still warm, with a little vanilla ice cream or pouring cream on the side.