This pudding is home cooking at its best and suitable for all ages. With the ruby red berries in the middle, it needs no adornment. If you happen to have some red currant sauce (below), it will lift this dessert into the sublime.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
8 slices white bread, ½-inch thick, stale or very lightly toasted
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups red currant berries, about 1 pound, berries stripped from the stems
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2½ cups whole milk
Butter an 8-ounce square baking pan (Pyrex is perfect). Trim the crusts from the bread and cut them so that 4 slices just fit together in one layer. Butter all 8 slices on one side and place 4 of them butter side down in the bottom of the pan. Scatter the currants over them evenly, then lay the other 4 slices on top butter side up.
In a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until they are well combined. Gradually stir in the milk with the vanilla and blend well. Pour the mixture over the bread. Let it sit for an hour or more, covered with plastic and chilled. Press on the bread a few times so that it absorbs some of the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake the pudding until it puffs up and turns golden brown, about an hour. Serve the pudding warm from the oven or at room temperature. Any leftover is delicious for breakfast the next day.