Did you have a good Christmas? Do you, like me, have a lot of leftover panettone (the marvellous Italian fruit bread) to use up? This recipe is an Italian twist on the classic English bread and butter pudding (which is often served with custard). I have given only the basic recipe, but each year I vary it slightly. Sometimes I spread the panettone slices lightly with orange marmalade; on other occasions I add dried fruit (such as cranberries, cherries, blueberries, or sultanas) soaked in brandy in between each layer. Or I might chop up some leftover glace fruit or marron glace, and add that in, too.

The pudding is very, very rich, but I make no apologies as it is still the festive season. You can make a low fat version by omitting the ricotta cheese and icing sugar altogether, replacing the double cream with single cream, and reducing the quantity of cream and sugar – but, trust me, it won’t taste as good. Just serve in small portions, and think of it as an annual treat. Serves 4.

6 oz/ 150g leftover panettone
3 oz/ 75g ricotta cheese (or butter if you prefer)
2 medium eggs
½ pint/ 300ml double cream
3 oz/ 75g white sugar
Icing sugar for dusting

Mascarpone cheese or ice cream (vanilla, orange, rum and raisin, or chestnut flavours are recommended), to serve

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ gas mark 4.
2. Slice the panettone fairly thickly, and spread each slice with ricotta cheese (or butter). If you wish, you can toast the slices very lightly under a grill (not in a toaster as it can get a bit messy). However, I prefer to leave them untoasted.
3. Beat the eggs well with cream and sugar.
4. Layer the panettone slices in a greased baking dish, ricotta side down. Pour over the egg mixture evenly, and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.
5. Remove from the oven and leave the pudding to stand for 5 minutes. Dust with icing sugar, and serve with a blob of mascarpone or a scoop of ice cream. If you got jars of fruit preserved in alcohol (such as oranges in rum) for Christmas, spoon a couple of tablespoons of their content along the side. Enjoy without guilt!