Fruit bread and butter pudding


Bread and butter pudding is a quintessentially British dessert, known for its comforting, homely qualities. This dessert, often associated with frugality and resourcefulness, is traditionally made from stale bread, butter, milk, and eggs. However, the addition of fruit transforms this humble pudding into a more sumptuous and versatile dish.

In this detailed exploration, we will delve into the origins, ingredients, preparation methods, variations, and cultural significance of fruit bread and butter pudding, providing a comprehensive understanding of this beloved dessert.

Origins and History

Bread and butter pudding has a rich history that dates back to the early 18th century. The dish was initially created as a way to use up stale bread, a common occurrence in households before modern preservatives extended the shelf life of baked goods.

The earliest versions were quite simple, consisting of layered buttered bread, raisins or currants, and a custard made from milk, eggs, and sugar.

The addition of fruit to the traditional recipe likely evolved as a way to enhance the flavor and nutritional value of the pudding. Fruit bread and butter pudding gained popularity in the 19th century, as trade routes expanded and exotic fruits became more accessible in Europe. Today, the dessert remains a staple in British cuisine and has inspired numerous variations around the world.


The beauty of fruit bread and butter pudding lies in its simplicity and adaptability. The key ingredients typically include:

  1. Bread: Stale bread is preferred as it absorbs the custard more effectively. Common choices are white bread, brioche, or challah, but whole grain or sourdough can add unique flavors and textures.
  2. Butter: Buttering the bread slices adds richness and prevents them from becoming too soggy during baking.
  3. Milk and Cream: A mixture of milk and cream forms the base of the custard, providing a creamy texture and enhancing the pudding’s richness.
  4. Eggs: Eggs are essential for binding the custard and giving the pudding its structure.
  5. Sugar: Granulated sugar sweetens the custard, while brown sugar can add a hint of caramel flavor.
  6. Fruit: A variety of fruits can be used, including raisins, sultanas, apples, pears, berries, and citrus zest. Dried fruits are often soaked in liquor or juice to plump them up and intensify their flavor.
  7. Spices and Flavorings: Common additions include vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sometimes a splash of rum or brandy.
  8. Additional Flavorings: Lemon or orange zest, vanilla extract, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg can elevate the flavor profile.


Preparing fruit bread and butter pudding involves several straightforward steps:

  1. Prepping the Bread: Begin by slicing the bread into manageable pieces. If using stale bread, there’s no need for additional toasting. Fresh bread should be lightly toasted to prevent it from becoming too mushy.
  2. Butter the Bread: Generously butter each slice of bread on one side. For added flavor, consider spreading a thin layer of marmalade, jam, or even a nut butter.
  3. Layering the Ingredients: Arrange the buttered bread slices in a baking dish, slightly overlapping them. Sprinkle fruit between the layers, ensuring even distribution.
  4. Making the Custard: Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and any desired flavorings. Pour the custard mixture over the layered bread, pressing down gently to help the bread absorb the liquid.

  1. Soaking Time: Allow the pudding to sit for at least 30 minutes, or longer if possible. This resting period ensures the bread fully absorbs the custard, resulting in a moist and creamy texture.
  2. Baking: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the pudding dish in a larger baking tray filled with hot water to create a bain-marie, which helps cook the custard evenly. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the custard is set.
  3. Finishing Touches: Let the pudding cool slightly before serving. It can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature, often accompanied by cream, custard, or a scoop of ice cream.


Fruit bread and butter pudding is highly adaptable, allowing for endless creativity. Here are some popular variations:

  1. Seasonal Fruits: Use fresh seasonal fruits such as berries in summer, apples, and pears in autumn, or citrus in winter. This not only enhances flavor but also adds a vibrant visual appeal.
  2. Chocolate Twist: For a decadent twist, add chocolate chips or a drizzle of melted chocolate between the bread layers. Alternatively, spread a layer of chocolate hazelnut spread on the bread before layering.
  3. Nutty Addition: Sprinkle chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pecans between the bread layers or on top for added crunch and flavor.
  4. Exotic Flavors: Incorporate tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, or coconut for a unique twist. Adding a hint of coconut milk to the custard can also infuse a subtle tropical flavor.
  5. Alcohol-Infused: Soak the dried fruits in rum, brandy, or sherry before adding them to the pudding. This not only plumps up the fruits but also infuses the pudding with a rich, boozy undertone.
  6. Savory Version: While traditionally a sweet dish, a savory bread and butter pudding can be made by omitting the sugar and fruit, and adding ingredients like cheese, ham, vegetables, and herbs.

Nutritional Value

While fruit bread and butter pudding is undoubtedly a treat, it can also offer nutritional benefits, particularly when incorporating a variety of fruits. Here are some key points:

  1. Bread: Provides carbohydrates for energy, with whole grain varieties offering additional fiber and nutrients.
  2. Milk and Cream: Offer calcium, protein, and essential vitamins. Using low-fat or plant-based alternatives can reduce calorie and fat content.
  3. Eggs: A good source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  4. Fruit: Adds vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Dried fruits, while higher in sugar, provide concentrated nutrients and fiber.
  5. Moderation: While rich in calories and fat, enjoying this dessert in moderation as part of a balanced diet can be a delightful way to include more fruit and dairy in your diet.

Cultural Significance

Bread and butter pudding holds a special place in British culinary tradition. It represents a time-honored way of minimizing food waste and making the most of available ingredients. This dessert is often associated with family gatherings, holidays, and nostalgic memories of home-cooked meals.


Fruit bread and butter pudding is a classic British dessert that marries simplicity with rich flavors. It’s an excellent way to use up stale bread and incorporates dried or fresh fruit for added sweetness and texture. This recipe serves as a guide to making a delicious, comforting pudding that’s perfect for any occasion.


watch full recipe video:

Here’s what you’ll need to create this delightful dessert:

  • Bread: 8-10 slices of stale white bread, brioche, or challah
  • Butter: 50g (1/4 cup), softened
  • Dried Fruit: 100g (3/4 cup) mixed dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, currants)
  • Fresh Fruit: 1 apple or pear, thinly sliced (optional)
  • Milk: 400ml (1 2/3 cups)
  • Cream: 200ml (3/4 cup) double (heavy) cream
  • Eggs: 3 large
  • Sugar: 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • Vanilla Extract: 1 teaspoon
  • Spices: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Zest: Grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons of rum or brandy
  • Topping: 1 tablespoon demerara sugar for sprinkling



  1. Prepare the Bread: Begin by slicing the bread into triangles or halves, depending on your preference. If the bread is fresh, lightly toast it to dry it out slightly. This helps the bread absorb the custard without becoming too mushy.
  2. Butter the Bread: Spread softened butter on one side of each bread slice. For an extra layer of flavor, you can also spread a thin layer of marmalade or jam over the butter.
  3. Soak the Dried Fruit: Place the mixed dried fruit in a small bowl and pour over the rum or brandy if using. Let it soak for about 30 minutes to plump up the fruit and infuse it with flavor.
  4. Prepare the Baking Dish: Grease a medium-sized baking dish (approximately 1.5-2 liters capacity) with butter.
Assembling the Pudding
  1. Layer the Bread: Arrange the buttered bread slices in the greased baking dish, slightly overlapping them. If using fresh fruit, intersperse the slices of apple or pear between the layers of bread.
  2. Add the Dried Fruit: Drain the soaked dried fruit and scatter it evenly over and between the bread layers.
Making the Custard
  1. Heat the Milk and Cream: In a saucepan, gently heat the milk and cream until just below boiling point. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Whisk the Eggs and Sugar: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and lemon or orange zest until well combined.
  3. Combine with Milk and Cream: Gradually pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture, whisking continuously to create a smooth custard.
Final Assembly
  1. Pour the Custard: Slowly pour the custard over the layered bread and fruit, ensuring all the bread is soaked. Press down gently on the bread to help it absorb the custard. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, or longer if you have time, to ensure the bread is thoroughly soaked.
  2. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
  3. Sprinkle with Sugar: Just before baking, sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the top of the pudding. This will create a delightful caramelized crust.
  1. Bake the Pudding: Place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan to create a bain-marie. This water bath helps the custard cook evenly and prevents the pudding from drying out.
  2. Bake Time: Bake in the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the custard is set. A knife inserted into the center should come out clean.
  1. Cool Slightly: Allow the pudding to cool slightly before serving. This helps it set further and makes it easier to slice.
  2. Serve Warm: Serve the fruit bread and butter pudding warm with a dollop of whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a drizzle of custard. You can also enjoy it at room temperature.
  1. Storing Leftovers: Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  2. Reheating: To reheat, cover with foil and warm in a low oven (150°C/300°F) for about 15 minutes, or microwave individual portions for a few minutes until heated through.


  1. 1. What is fruit bread and butter pudding?Answer: Fruit bread and butter pudding is a classic British dessert made from layers of buttered bread interspersed with fruit, soaked in a creamy custard mixture, and baked until golden brown. It’s a versatile dish that can be made with various types of bread and fruit, making it a great way to use up leftovers.

    2. Can I use fresh bread for this recipe?

    Answer: Yes, you can use fresh bread, but it is recommended to lightly toast it first. Stale or slightly dried bread absorbs the custard better, preventing the pudding from becoming too soggy.

    3. What types of bread work best for this pudding?

    Answer: While white bread is traditional, brioche, challah, or even whole grain bread can be used. Brioche and challah add a rich, buttery flavor, while whole grain bread adds a nuttier taste and extra texture.

    4. Can I make this pudding with different kinds of fruit?

    Answer: Absolutely! This recipe is highly adaptable. You can use dried fruits like raisins, sultanas, or currants, or fresh fruits such as apples, pears, berries, or even citrus zest. Feel free to experiment with your favorite fruits.

    5. How do I prevent the pudding from being too soggy?

    Answer: To avoid sogginess, use slightly stale or toasted bread, ensure the bread is well buttered, and don’t over-soak the bread in the custard mixture. Allowing the bread to soak for about 30 minutes before baking helps achieve the right texture.

    6. Can I make this pudding ahead of time?

    Answer: Yes, you can assemble the pudding and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight before baking. This can enhance the flavors and make the bread fully absorb the custard. Just remember to let it come to room temperature before baking.

    7. What’s the best way to reheat leftovers?

    Answer: To reheat, cover the pudding with foil and warm it in a low oven (150°C/300°F) for about 15 minutes, or microwave individual portions for a few minutes until heated through. Reheating in the oven will help maintain the texture better than microwaving.

    8. Can I make a dairy-free version of this pudding?

    Answer: Yes, you can substitute dairy milk with plant-based milk like almond, soy, or oat milk. Use a dairy-free cream alternative, and replace butter with a dairy-free margarine or coconut oil. Ensure the bread you use is also dairy-free.



    9. Is it possible to make a gluten-free version?

    Answer: Certainly! Use gluten-free bread and check that all other ingredients, such as the custard mixture and any added flavorings, are gluten-free. The rest of the recipe remains the same.

    10. What can I serve with fruit bread and butter pudding?

    Answer: This pudding is delicious on its own, but you can serve it with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or a drizzle of custard. A dollop of crème fraîche or a spoonful of fruit compote can also complement the flavors nicely.

    11. How long does the pudding need to bake?

    Answer: The pudding typically needs to bake for 45-60 minutes at 180°C (350°F). It’s done when the top is golden brown, and the custard is set. A knife inserted into the center should come out clean.

    12. Can I add alcohol to the recipe?

    Answer: Yes, soaking the dried fruits in rum, brandy, or sherry before adding them to the pudding can impart a rich, boozy flavor. Be sure to drain the fruit before using it in the pudding to avoid excess liquid.

    13. What if I don’t have an oven?

    Answer: If you don’t have an oven, you can try cooking the pudding in a microwave on a low setting, though the texture may differ. Another option is to use a slow cooker: assemble the pudding as usual and cook on low for 2-3 hours until the custard is set.

    14. Can I reduce the sugar in the recipe?

    Answer: Yes, you can adjust the sugar to your taste. Reducing the sugar or using natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup can make the pudding healthier while still maintaining its delicious flavor.

    15. Is this pudding suitable for vegetarians?

    Answer: Yes, fruit bread and butter pudding is suitable for vegetarians as it contains no meat products. Just ensure that the ingredients you use, like bread and butter, are vegetarian-friendly.

    16. How should I store the pudding?

    Answer: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To maintain the best texture, reheat as needed and avoid leaving the pudding at room temperature for extended periods.

    17. Can I freeze fruit bread and butter pudding?

    Answer: Yes, you can freeze the pudding. After baking, allow it to cool completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, or place it in an airtight container. It can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat before serving.

    By following these guidelines and tips, you can enjoy a perfectly prepared fruit bread and butter pudding, tailored to your preferences and dietary needs.


    Fruit bread and butter pudding is a versatile and beloved dessert that has stood the test of time. Its origins as a frugal dish have evolved into a canvas for culinary creativity, with endless possibilities for variations. Whether enjoyed as a simple, comforting treat or a show-stopping dessert, this pudding continues to charm and delight those who partake in its rich, custardy goodness.

    By understanding the ingredients, preparation methods, and cultural significance of fruit bread and butter pudding, we can appreciate not only its delicious taste but also its role in culinary history. This timeless dessert embodies the spirit of making the most of what we have and finding joy in the simplest of ingredients.

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