Ready to bust that diet? One slice of this decadent bread pudding should do it -- and be worth every bit of effort it takes to work it off. It's stuffed with dates, baked with a cream-and-egg custard base and topped with a potent sauce.


4 tablespoons butter, softened, plus extra for greasing

10 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed

7 oz. (about 1 cup) pitted dates, chopped

1 ½ cups cream

2/3cup milk

3 eggs

3 oz. (about 1/3cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar, preferably superfine

½teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon brown sugar, for sprinkling


8 tablespoons butter

1 ¼ cups light brown sugar

1 cup cream

¼cup brandy

¼cup sweet sherry


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter the bread, leaving 4 slices whole and cutting the remaining 6 slices in half to make triangles. Grease the sides and base of an 8-inch square baking dish. Place the 4 whole slices of bread buttered side up on the base of the ovenproof dish, then sprinkle the chopped dates over the top. Arrange the triangles of bread buttered side up on top to cover the dates.

Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan almost to the boil. While it heats up, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla in a heatproof bowl, then slowly pour the hot milk and cream on top, whisking as you pour. Pour this custard over the bread and allow to soak for 20 minutes. Sprinkle brown sugar over bread.

Place the baking dish in a large roasting pan and carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the top is golden and the center just set. Serve with sauce and whipped cream.

To make sauce: Place the butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring all the time. Boil for 4 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Remove the pan from the heat, allow to cool for 1 minute, then add the brandy and sherry.

Source: Irish Dairy Board