1. Mix the brandy with the sultanas in a small clean dish. Cover and allow it to stand for an hour or two.
2. Lightly butter an ovenproof dish.
3. Butter the slices of bread and cut off the crusts.
4. Neatly cut the bread into small triangle shapes.
5. Arrange a layer of the buttered bread triangles in the bottom of the ovenproof dish.
6. Sprinkle over half of the sultanas and add another layer of bread followed by the remaining sultanas. Top off neatly with a final layer of bread.
7. Cover and put aside until required.
8. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 4).
9. Pour the milk into a heavy-based small saucepan.
10. Cut the vanilla pod into half lengthways.
11. Scrape the seeds into the milk and also add the pod (or, add a few drops of vanilla extract).
12. Place on the hob over a low heat and bring almost to the boil.
13. Break the eggs into a clean bowl, add the sugar and whisk together until light in color.
14. When the milk has almost boiled, carefully whisk onto the beaten egg and sugar to form a thin custard.
15. Allow it to cool slightly and stir in the cream.
16. Allow it to stand for 10 minutes or so to infuse the vanilla flavor into the custard.
17. Pass the custard through a strainer lined with muslin to remove the vanilla seeds and pod (keep the pod for another use).
18. Pour the custard over the bread in the dish and allow it to soak for about 15 minutes.
19. Make a bain marie with a large tray half filled with hot water.
20. Place the bread and butter pudding into the bain marie and place it in the oven.
21. Cook for about 30 minutes until it is golden in color and the bread and butter pudding is just set. It should feel spongy when pressed with your fingers.
22. Remove from the oven and take the bread and butter pudding out of the bain marie.
23. Lightly dust with icing sugar and serve your bread and butter pudding immediately with hot