Rachel Allen's Date Bread and Butter Pudding

Celebrate St. Paddy's Day with Rachel Allen's authentic (and irresistible!) Irish treat.

Illustration by John Ritter

Hailed by the typically reserved BBC as the "Irish cooking queen," best-selling cookbook author and TV chef Rachel Allen has a devoted fan base in Ireland and the UK and she's starting to cause a stir stateside, thanks to her PBS show, Rachel's Favorite Food at Home. This year, celebrate St. Paddy's Day with her authentic (and irresistible!) Emerald Isle treat.

4 tablespoons butter (preferably Kerrygold), softened, plus extra for greasing

10 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed

7 ounces (about 1 cup) pitted dates, chopped

1 1/2 cups cream

2/3 cup milk

3 eggs

3 ounces (about 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons) superfine sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon light brown sugar for sprinkling

Easy Boozy Toffee Sauce (recipe at bottom)

Softly whipped cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease an 8-inch square ovenproof baking dish.
  3. Butter all bread slices. Set aside 4 and cut remaining 6 in half to make triangles. Place the 4 whole slices, buttered sides up, in dish. Sprinkle chopped dates over top. Arrange bread triangles, buttered sides up, on top to cover dates.
  4. Heat cream and milk in a saucepan, bringing almost to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla in a heatproof bowl, then pour the hot milk/cream combo on top, whisking as you go, to make a custard. Pour over bread and let soak for 20 minutes. Sprinkle brown sugar over bread.
  5. Place baking dish in a large roasting pan and carefully pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up side of dish. Bake 50-60 minutes or until golden and center is just set. Serve with Easy Boozy Toffee Sauce and whipped cream.

NOTE: Bread pudding can be made a day ahead, then reheated for about 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven until hot in center.

Easy Boozy Toffee Sauce

8 tablespoons butter (preferably Kerrygold)

8 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) light brown sugar

1 cup cream

1/4 cup brandy

1/4 cup sweet sherry

Place butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring throughout. Boil 4 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Remove pan from heat, let cool 1 minute, then add brandy and sherry. Makes 1 3/4 cups.

Originally published in the March 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.