In fact the picture shows a Pandoro as this year I rather overbought Italian sweet breads and having tried several of them during the holidays I had the Pandoro open and getting in my way.
I find some of the most delicious recipes are the ones that combine thrift with simplicity and this works on both counts.
It also gives me a chance to talk a little about the urge to diet once the last moments of the New Year's parties have faded.
When watching the film Notting Hill I felt a special twinge of sympathy with Julia Robert's character when she mentions she has been on a diet her entire adult life. How dreadful, I thought, to have to be judged so much for one looks and especially ones weight. We see all too often girls who develop worrying relationships with food due to their own lack of self esteem, but this does not mean we should not take care with what we eat.
In a time of unparallelled obesity I can see it makes perfect sense to think about a new approach to ones diet at the beginning of a New Year. We make resolutions about joining book clubs and visiting art galleries more so why not about what we're eating?
Many folk scoff at the idea of calorie controlled diets, indeed there has been a storm of young women on Twitter talking about how they laugh in the face of people talking of weight watching. Well fine if you are happy with your weight and have checked your BMI is roughly normal. But note I mentioned young women. Many of those tweeting have not yet had children and quite definitely have not reached menopause.
Just upping your exercise rate when having seconds of chocolate pudding won't work then.
And what of men who are less lean than ever before? There are many social factors that have caused this change. Few marry in their twenties, there is more disposable income, more good and not so good low to middle priced restaurants, low cost booze and much to my joy, many men now simply love cooking and eating and entertaining.
What was once a aptly name fat cat lifestyle of plenty has spread to the rest of us and if we don't choose to have a good new look at what we are eating and drinking we are just putting off the inevitable. The simple fact is that it is harder to loose weight than to put it on in just the same way as it is harder to pay off debt then to acquire it.
The books need balancing and for me New Year is quite the right time at least to have a good look at the figures.
A plan is always a good idea and treats essential. So eat more vegetables, put less fatty food on your plate, save chips and cocktails for very special occasions and most importantly never talk about any diet , that includes wheat free, Dukan or vegan, at the table.
Meanwhile enjoy this lovely dessert on these cold January days.
Panatonne Bread and Butter Pudding
About 500gms Panatonne or Pandoro cut into thick slices
4 large free rang eggs I love to use Clarence Court for their rich yellow yolks
500ml milk or milk and cream mixed
1-2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
If using Pandoro I add a handful of dried fruit
Arrange the slices of Panatonne in a baking dish, adding the fruit if used. I like to have the crusty points of the bread sticking up so they caramelise as the pudding cooks.
Whisk the milk, sugar, eggs and vanilla together and strain over the Panatonne. Allow the bread to soak up the custard for a couple of hours occasionally gently pushing the floating slices back into the liquid.
Once the bread is soaked through place the dish in a cold oven and turn the temperature to 140 C 300F gas mk 3.
Cook the pudding unlit golden and puffy about 20minutes from when the oven is hot.
I find that placing the dish in a cold oven helps the custard not to curdle. A bain marie works this way too.
Serve at once with extra cream or a dash of almond liqueur.