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Chai-spiced bread and butter pudding

A timeless classic with flavours of the spiced milky tea found across India.

Photo: Chris Young / CC-BY-SA 4.0

Photo: Chris Young / CC-BY-SA 4.0

Surely almost every cook in the UK (and many beyond) has a version of this food-waste-busting comfort food in his or her repertoire. Mine was inspired by drinking endless glasses of masala chai from roadside vendors around India.


Serves 4

320g stale Real Bread, sliced about 1 or 2cm thick
600ml milk (or a mixture of milk and cream)
50g caster sugar (or vanilla sugar)
40g butter** (or enough to spread on one side of each of the bread slices)
2 eggs
50g seedless raisins or sultanas

The spices

1 green cardamom pod
1 or 2 cloves
1 slice (about 3mm thick) of fresh ginger or ¼ teaspoon of ground
2cm piece of cinnamon quill or cassia bark
A vanilla pod (if not using vanilla sugar)
A twist or two of black pepper, very finely ground
Zest of half a lemon

*White or brown, brioche or bagels – basically, whatever sort of Real Bread you have lying about. As they are already enrichced, croissants, pannetone and Finnish pulla work very well. Must be bread, though, not industrial loaf product.
** Not margarine (sorry, vegans) or low-fat, supposedly butteresque, products of the 'yellow fats market'.

The weight of the bread is based on 8 thick (40g each) slices of an 800g tin loaf but as with all of the other measurements, this is approximate.  You can tweak the amounts of bread, butter, sugar, milk etc. depending on your taste and how much of each you have to hand.


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F or gas mk 4)

Add the spices (except the pepper) to the milk and heat but do not boil. Cover and set aside to cool.

Grease an ovenproof dish. Butter the bread on one side, cut into pieces and arrange half of them in a layer in the dish. Scatter the raisins or sultanas and layer the rest of the bread on top.  If you are using a smaller, deeper dish, you might get two fruit layers and three of bread.

Strain the spices out of the milk. If you have used a vanilla pod, give it a rinse and dry it out so that you can use it again.

Whisk the milk together with the eggs and sugar and pepper. Pour it over the bread and butter – the liquid should reach about half way up the top layer of bread.  Leave to soak for twenty minutes or so.

Put in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes until brown on top an just set in the middle – wobbly, not watery.

Serve hot with cream, custard or brandy butter.  Tastes great cold, too.


Bread and butter pudding can be dressed up with chocolate, marmalade, jam, apples, nuts and who knows what or left plain.

If you are counting calories, or trying to eat less of anything in this recipe, just eat a smaller portion.

Recipe and text © Chris Young

A version of this can be found in Slow Dough: Real Bread by Chris Young, published by Nourish Books. Hardback, £20.

Reproduction prohibited without written agreement of the copyright holder.

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Published 20 Aug 2020

Real Bread Campaign: The Real Bread Campaign finds and shares ways to make bread better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Whether your interest is local food, community-focussed small enterprises, honest labelling, therapeutic baking, or simply tasty toast, everyone is invited to become a Campaign supporter.

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