White chocolate and raspberry brioche pudding

This is one of my dad’s favourite recipes and I love making it for him. Cheesecake or bread and butter pudding, that’s what he likes most.

He’s always run Indian restaurants so desserts were never really his thing, but since working front-of-house at Champneys in Tring, he’s become a real convert and is much more aware of how good English puddings can be. You’d have thought they’d steer away from sugary stuff at a health spa, where everyone’s supposed to be detoxing, but even healthy people are into their sweet treats. “Now I get why you kept on at me to have better desserts at my restaurants,” he says.

This is supposed to be one of those waste-not-want-not recipes for using up stale bread, but if I’m honest I’m not a fan of traditional bread and butter pudding. There’s something about soggy bread I just can’t stand. Brioche, on the other hand … oh my goodness, that and custard are a marriage made in heaven. The bread’s so soft and delicious and soaks up the custard beautifully. It’s like all the nice things in life rolled into one.

If I’m making my own brioche I’ll double the batch just so I can make this pudding, but shop-bought works just as well, as do stale croissants or panettone. I’ll use any soft fruit I have to hand and whatever type of chocolate, too, but white chocolate and raspberries is definitely the best combination.

Lunches with my dad happen when he has time off. He’s one of those people who’s always busy. He lives in Luton, so now I’ve moved back down south from Leeds, I should be able to see more of him. But whenever I ring, the answer’s always, “He’s with the chickens.” No, it’s not a family phrase meaning, “He’s away with the fairies” – he’s literally down the garden looking after his chickens. It’s great – it means I almost never have to buy eggs. Whenever I go round my mum will give me a tray. Fresh free-range eggs make the best custard, so it’s only right Dad gets to enjoy this. We hijack him for the day. “You’re going nowhere,” I’ll tell him. “You stay put while I make lunch.”

White chocolate and raspberry brioche pudding

Serves 6-8

30g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
220g white chocolate, broken into pieces
220g brioche
200g raspberries
4 medium eggs
750ml whole milk
30g caster sugar
20g icing sugar, to serve

1 Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Butter the sides of a large baking dish, approx 30 x 23cm.

2 Melt the butter and the chocolate together and set aside. Cut the brioche into thin slices.

3 Lay half the slices in the bottom of the dish. Pour over half the butter and chocolate mixture and scatter over half the raspberries. Lay the rest of the bread slices on top, then add the remaining chocolate and raspberries.

4 In a jug beat the eggs, milk and sugar and pour over the brioche. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.

5 Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the surface is golden and the custard has set. Once baked, leave to stand for 15 minutes and dust with icing sugar before serving.