Bread & Butter Pudding is something that we imagine most of our readers will have heard of, but not quite as many will have tried (your current writer certainly falls into that demographic). At it’s most basic, the dish consists of taking slices of bread (traditionally, stale bread), buttering them, layering the buttered slices in a baking dish, and scattering mixture of Raisins and an Egg-based Custard-like mixture seasoned with Nutmeg or Vanilla atop them; the dish is then baked in an oven, and is often served with custard, or occasionally cream.
There exist a number of variations on the traditional Bread & Butter pudding that jazz up the flavour or texture in various ways; one example is a variant that calls for different kinds of bread, such as Brioche, or pastry based treats like Croissants. Other recipe variants may call for the addition of fruit based preserves such as Strawberry Jam, Blackcurrent Jam, or Marmalade to be spread along the bread in addition to the butter. And then there are the truly eclectic takes on the dish, which may call for Grapes instead of Raisins, or ask for Apples to be melted into the Egg Custard-like mixture that is poured over the pudding before it’s baked.
One of the earliest published Bread & Butter Pudding recipes is accredited to Eliza Smith, and is found within her book The Compleat Housewife, first published in 1728. The recipe is fairly close to the one we know today, albeit with the addition of Currents as well as Raisins, and the use of Cream and Orange Flower-Water in the sauce that is poured atop the dish before baking.
The dish has actually existed long before that, however; throughout British history, references are made to a dish called Whitepot, often considered the precursor to Bread & Butter Pudding as we know it, and is largely similar to the modern variant (albeit Bone Marrow was sometimes used in place of Butter). A further variant of Whitepot using Rice instead of Bread was also fairly popular throughout the ages, and likewise served as the progenitor to what we now know as Rice Pudding.