Spiced bread and butter pudding with saffron and dates recipe by Benjamina Ebuehi

Croissants are my bread of choice here, because the tops get unbelievably crisp, and in a pudding that is mostly quite soft I always welcome a bit of crunch. The warming saffron custard that seeps into the bellies of the croissants is earthy and grassy, infused with ginger and cardamom to brighten it up. You could let the milk steep overnight if you’d prefer a stronger saffron flavour, and swap the croissants for brioche or thick, white bread instead.

Serves 4-6
milk 240ml
double cream 300ml
saffron 8-10 strands
fresh root ginger 30g, grated
cardamom pods 6, lightly crushed
eggs 2, plus 1 egg yolk
caster sugar 70g
croissants 4 large, slightly stale
dates 50g, roughly chopped
demerara sugar 1 tbsp

Pour the milk, cream, saffron, ginger and cardamom into a medium saucepan and heat gently until just before boiling. Remove from the heat, cover and let the milk steep and cool for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 170C fan/gas mark 5. Get out a baking dish about 26cm x 21cm in size.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk and caster sugar together briefly until well mixed and smooth. Set aside. Use a sieve to strain the milk and pour it back into the saucepan. You can add a few strands of saffron back into the milk if you want a stronger flavour. Gently heat the milk and bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat and pour it into the egg mixture in three additions, whisking as you pour until all the milk is incorporated.

Slice the croissants in half horizontally and layer half of them in your baking dish. Scatter half of the dates on top. Pour just over half of the custard on top of the croissants and let it soak in for a few minutes before layering up with the remaining croissants and dates. Pour on the rest of the custard and sprinkle the demerara sugar on top.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for a further 15-20 minutes until the top is crisp and the pudding has just a little wobble. Let it cool and settle for 10 minutes before serving.

From A Good Day to Bake by Benjamina Ebuehi (Quadrille, £22)