When I was younger, I wanted to be like Princess Diana. I dreamed of tiaras, beautiful outfits and having tea with the Queen. Even now, there’s still a part of me that wonders what it would be like to be a real-life Cinderella, or even Kate or Meghan.
I know a royal title is likely not in my future, but I can still live like a princess—or at least eat like one, thanks to a cookbook written by former Royal Chef Darren McGrady. In Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen, he shares his recipe for bread and butter pudding, which is rumored to be one of Princess Diana’s favorite desserts.
The famous recipe for bread pudding
- 12 slices white bread with the crusts removed
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 9 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla paste (you can find it on Amazon)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 oz golden raisins
- 3 oz slivered almonds, toasted (optional)
- 1/4 cup amaretto
- 1 tsp powdered sugar
First things first: Any recipe that involves alcohol-soaked ingredients (raisins, in this case) is an instant win in my book. Just keep in mind that the raisins will have to sit in the amaretto overnight, so you may need to plan ahead.
This isn’t your traditional “dump and go” bread pudding. It’s much prettier—and I have to admit I was a little worried about the effort that would go into making it that way. To be honest, I usually prefer quick and easy desserts!
Prepping the bread
If nothing else, this recipe is great practice for moms-to-be. You’ll be cutting the crusts off 12 slices of white bread and smearing them with butter. (Your crustless PB&J-making skills will be so good at the end of this.) Once that was finally finished, I cut three slices into 1/2-inch cubes and the rest into tiny triangles.
Making the pudding
The secret to any good bread pudding is the creamy custard that holds it all together. I whipped together the egg yolks and sugar, then simmered the milk, cream and vanilla paste on the stove before combining the two. (You can find vanilla paste, a thicker product with visible flecks of vanilla bean, in your grocery store or on Amazon. You can also substitute 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract for the vanilla paste.)
Next was the fun part—assembling the dish. Like I mentioned, this version of bread pudding requires a bit more finesse. I layered the cubed bread on the bottom of the baking pan, along with the raisins and amaretto. Then, per Chef McGrady’s instructions, I neatly arranged the triangles before pouring the cream and egg custard over top.
Then, I waited. The recipe said to let it sit for 20 minutes before baking to let the bread soak up all the custard goodness. In the meantime, see what other foods Chef McGrady remembers making for Diana.
Baking—with a twist
Think I just threw the baking dish in the oven to cook? Think again. Chef McGrady says to set the dish inside a roasting pan filled about 3/4 of the way with hot water. Only then did I put it in the oven, where it baked for 30 minutes at 350° F.
Once the time was up and the pudding looked like it had set properly, I pulled the dish out of the oven, sprinkled it with a little sugar and switched from bake to broil. Within a few minutes, the top was golden and crusty, just like creme brûlée. (Here’s when I really started feeling like Gordon Ramsay in female form!)
The finished product
After sprinkling on some slivered almonds for crunch (you can leave these out in a pinch) and powdered sugar, I hungrily grabbed a fork and dug in for a bite. And then another bite… and then another. Let’s just say it’s very easy to understand why Princess Diana loved this decadent dessert so much. It tastes like your favorite bread pudding but with extra depth of flavor from the amaretto-soaked raisins and vanilla. Yum!
You can find the full bread pudding recipe in Chef McGrady’s book on Amazon.
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