It's butter that plays the starring role in chef Clodagh McKenna's twist on bread pudding. Each slice of bread is generously slathered in butter before hitting the baking dish and custard bath. "It's perfect for a cozy weeknight in with family, but elegant enough to elicit 'oohs' and 'aahs' as a dinner party finale," Clodagh says.
Another key? Stale bread. "Use bread that is at least 24 hours old," she says. "The drier the bread, the more of the rich custard it absorbs."
Here are Clodagh's six steps to bread pudding perfection.
"Raisins get delightfully plump when soaked," Clodagh says. "Irish whiskey gives them an extra kick and boosts the sweetness so they're bursting with deliciousness."
"The ingredients are simple, so look for the purest high-quality butter and cream you can find. Freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg would be all the better, too."
"I like to coat each crusted slice with a generous layer of Irish butter for added richness. It's the secret to my take on bread pudding."
"Once you've poured the custard over, gently press the bread down so it's completely covered in liquid. This will ensure the pudding doesn't have a dry top."
"Baking this way insulates the custard from direct heat, which can cause the eggs to cook too fast and separate. The steam also helps keep the surface from drying out."
The sauce has a thin consistency and thickens just a bit as it simmers. "The sauce is addictive," Clodagh says. "Pour any extra over ice cream to make an Irish sundae!"