Place the raisins into a small cup and pour over the brandy. Cover with cling film and place in the microwave for 2 minutes on high. Remove and set aside. Grease an ovenware dish measuring approximately 22cm x 30 cm with a little butter or margarine. Put the milk, cream and vanilla pod into a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat, and then leave to cool for 10 minutes. Whisk the eggs together with the sugar until well mixed, and then remove the vanilla pod from the milk mixture. Add the milk and the cream into the egg mixture and whizz together to combine. Pour about 1 cm of this egg mixture into the base of the ovenware dish.
Butter the bread on one side only and arrange in overlapping rows inside, butter side down on top of the egg mixture. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread triangles, add the soaked raisins and leave for 2 hours. NB ( It may appear too much mixture so add more after an hour you will find as it absorbs into the bread you will find space in the ovenware dish!) Pre-heat the oven to 180C/ 350 F/ Gas mark 4. Place in a roasting tin and fill halfway with water to make a bain marie.
Cook for 45–50 minutes until golden brown and set. Put the apricot jam and water into a small glass dish. Cover with cling film and melt in the microwave for 1 minute. (This is very hot so be careful). Using a pastry brush glaze the top with apricot jam. Return to the oven for a final 5 minutes for a crispy topping.
Freezing and defrosting guidelines
Once the dish has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. Loosely cover with foil and bake until dish is thoroughly heated through. Reheat until piping hot.
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