Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Got milk, eggs, bread? Make Caramel Apple Bread Pudding

The snow's still on the ground in much of the country, and I'm betting that substantial supplies of the eggs, milk and bread that we all stocked up on are still in many kitchens.

Why not make bread pudding?

My version is sweetened with a layer of caramelized apples. You can use whatever variety of apple you might have on hand. I mixed together a Granny Smith, which retained its texture as it cooked, and a Golden Delicious, which softened into applesauce.

Just about any type of bread would work, too. I had an abundance of small dinner rolls, so I used those. Other options include French bread, cinnamon bread and sandwich bread.

Whole milk will make the richest dessert, but 2 percent would work too. If you only have nonfat milk on hand, you might want to add a tablespoon of melted butter when you whisk together the milk and eggs. (That's what I did.)

I baked the puddings in 8-ounce ramekins. For smaller servings, use 4- or 6-ounce custard cups and reduce the baking time as necessary.

Yield: 2 generous servings (see note)

3 loosely packed cups bread cubes (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
7 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
1 tablespoon butter, divided
2 apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
Whipped cream, for optional garnish

Place bread cubes in a medium bowl. In another bowl, whisk together milk, vanilla, whole egg, egg yolk, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 3 tablespoons brown sugar. Pour over bread; toss to combine completely. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and cook, stirring frequently, until they soften and begin to brown. Stir in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 4 tablespoons brown sugar. Cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and glazes the apples. Set aside to cool completely.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-ounce ramekins. Stir the bread mixture, then spoon about one-fourth of the mixture into each ramekin. Spoon about one-fourth of the apple mixture over the bread mixture in each ramekin, spreading the apples to make a thin layer. Top with the remaining bread mixture. Set the remaining apples aside to use as a garnish.

Place an 8-inch-square or larger baking dish on the middle oven shelf. Place the ramekins into the baking dish. Pour hot water into the baking dish until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (The water bath assures that the puddings will  bake evenly.)

Bake until the top of each pudding is golden brown and has puffed slightly and a knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean, about 45 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature, then top with the remaining caramelized apples. If desired, garnish with whipped cream.

Note: This recipe can be doubled or tripled. If making larger amounts, use a 9-by-13-inch pan or a roasting pan for the water bath.

Copyright 2013 by Judith Evans. All rights reserved.

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