I've never met a bread pudding I liked. It's true. They're gross. They're either too wet, overloaded with dark raisins, or they have that bourbon sauce all over it. Yuck. I watch friends and family members dive into restaurant made bread puddings then "ooo and awww" like it was the best thing ever. I just don't get it.
The other day, I got to thinking about what I always want a bread pudding recipe to taste like but never does. My bread pudding would have a good chewy top, a creamy soft bread center with the flavors of vanilla and cinnamon, and tossed here and there, apple chunks, dried cranberries, pecan pieces and chopped dates. There's no bourbon sauce, instead warm butter is brushed over the top as soon as the bread pudding comes out of the oven.
HERE'S MY DREAM APPLE BUTTERSCOTCH BREAD PUDDING
Makes 6 servings.
- 3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 heaping tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice or cinnamon
- Dash of salt
- 3 tablespoons pecan pieces
- 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 4 to 5 dates, seeded, cut into raisin size pieces
- 3 heaping cups day old French bread cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs
- dash of salt
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Cook the apples in the brown sugar, butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, and dash of salt over medium heat until tender.
Add in the pecans, dried cranberries and dates, then give it a good toss.
HEAT THE OVEN TO 350ºF DEGREES
Butter a baking dish (8-inch by 8-inch works). In a large bowl, toss the cooked apples with the bread cubes. Transfer mix to the buttered baking dish. Set aside.
Heat milk with the butter, brown sugar and vanilla over medium heat until bubbles start to form along the edges of the milk. Slowly add in baking soda and whisk together. The baking soda will cause a foamy reaction. Don't freak out. I have no idea why the old recipe I borrowed this idea from called for baking soda, so just go with me here.
Beat the eggs slightly, add the dash of salt, then SLOWLY pour in the warm milk, whisking all the while. In other words, temper the eggs before completely making the custard. Pour all over the bread cubes and fruit mix. With clean hands, press the bread cubes into the custard until they are completely soaked. Allow the whole mix to stand for 5 minutes or so, giving the bread a chance to absorb all the liquid.
Set the baking dish in a pan containing warm water up to the level of the pudding. (I used the bottom of my old broiler pan to set my baking dish inside. Then, added hot water to the broiler pan.)
Bake for 1 hour or until a small knife comes out clean when inserted in the center of the pudding.
Brush the top of the hot bread pudding with melted butter, then allow to cool completely.
Of all the bread pudding recipes in this world, this has got to be the greatest one to ever be baked. It's the perfect bread pudding for folks that don't even like bread pudding.
One last thing.
I know folks like to eat bread pudding warm. I beg you, PLEASE, let this recipe cool. Refrigerate it over night or at least long enough so it can completely cool to the core. Then, warm individual servings. I know that sounds like extra steps and trouble. I beg you to trust me and go along with me on this. We ate it fresh out of the oven, but it wasn't nearly as wonderful as when we enjoyed it the next night. My husband and I ended up killing it off, eating it right out of the casserole dish.