Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce . . .

Consider yourself in luck! I'm going to spare you my usual gigantic preamble. Really. I am. There's a first time for everything, right?

I just wanted to share this recipe while you're still craving apples. (You are still craving apples, and things made with apples, aren't you? . . . Good. Me too.)

This humble little recipe may be an amalgam of every bread pudding recipe I've ever seen. Then again it may not be. So there. (One might say it has no provenance, so to speak; it just exists.)

And the caramel sauce formula is a simple adaptation of about six such recipes I've either made or considered making here and there over time. They always seem to be called either "caramel sauce" or "brown-sugar sauce" or "butterscotch sauce" or "brown-sugar butter sauce" or some variation thereof. I think this one tastes more caramel-like than anything else, so that's what we're calling it here, okay? Okay.

Your kitchen is going to smell really, really good while this baby's baking. Just warning you.

Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding . . . with Caramel Sauce

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

To make the bread pudding:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 2-quart shallow casserole dish.

5 heaping cups of firm white-bread cubes (make the cubes about 1" x 1"; I used a little loaf of homemade white bread that was just starting to get stale and it worked pretty well)
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 extra-large eggs (or 4 large)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon (you can always use more if you're utterly wild about cinnamon)
1 pinch salt
1 heaping cup apple pieces, chopped in small pieces (I used one extra large Honeycrisp apple and that yielded enough-- about 1 and 1/3 cups; it's a very firm, crisp, sweet apple)

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

Scatter the bread cubes evenly in the casserole dish. Scatter the apple pieces evenly over the bread cubes.

Sprinkle one half of the cinnamon and sugar mixture evenly over the top.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs well. Pour the milk, cream, pinch of salt, and vanilla extract into the bowl and whisk gently until well combined.

Add all of the remaining cinnamon-sugar to the liquid, and whisk that in until well combined.

Pour the liquid mixture evenly over the top of the bread and apple pieces. Try to make sure all of the bread gets drenched in liquid. Let the casserole sit for 15 minutes before you put it in the oven; the bread likes to have a chance to soak up some of the liquid.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes. The top should be quite golden brown and the middle of the pudding should be a bit wiggly, but not wet looking.

To make the caramel sauce:

1/4 cup salted butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup 1/2 & 1/2
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 Tbsp. apple juice or cider

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together over low heat. When the butter's completely melted, while stirring constantly slowly pour in the 1/2 & 1/2, the heavy cream, the corn syrup, and the juice/cider. Still stirring, now over medium-low heat, cook for a couple of minutes, until the mixture looks and feels like the sugar has completely dissolved. Let the sauce cool just a bit before pouring a tablespoon or two on individual servings of the bread pudding. Refrigerate any leftover sauce.

(If you'd prefer not to use the sauce, which is pretty sweet, another nice option is a spoonful of unsweetened whipped cream on top of the pudding servings instead. This is a dessert that's best served warm.)

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