Monday, May 17, 2010

Apple-Apple Bread Pudding (MY PICK!)

Today is a banner day, my friends! Today is the day that we baked my chosen recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie, the online baking group I belong to. If you're not a member of this group, please understand that this is a Big Deal. There are approximately five bajillion members (give or take a kablillion) so most weeks, we TWD'ers end up making a recipe someone else has picked out. After a year and a half in the group, it was finally my turn, so you'd think I would be excited, right?

Well, I was excited. But I also felt pressure! And fear! And the ice-cold sweat of the guilty upon my brow! You see, everyone wants to pick a recipe the group will love. No one wants to be the one to inflict the TWD equivalent of the infamous Sandra Lee Kwanzaa cake upon their friends. Adding to this concern is my certainty that I have bad TWD karma because I complain about the recipes all the time. It's nothing against Dorie--I truly love this book--it's more about being an obnoxious nitpicky perfectionist who always wants to tweak things and make them just a bit better.

So although I was looking forward to choosing a recipe, I'm also sure that I've cosmically earned whatever apathy or negativity anyone has toward this week's recipe. And what a struggle it was to decide! I've confessed before that I am a bread pudding-holic. It's been a year since my admission, and I still haven't hit rock bottom. So obviously I'd had my eye on her Apple-Apple Bread Pudding since day one. But I had so many doubts: bread pudding isn't a springy dessert! And why use apples when there are so many delicious berries coming into season? And what about all the bread pudding haters? So I struggled. But in the end, I had to be true to myself, and my stomach, and say, as did the wise Kenneth from 30 Rock, "This mess is going to get raw like sushi, so haters to the left!"

This bread pudding was different from any others that I've made. It actually seemed almost more like stuffed French toast. Toasted brioche is slathered with apple butter, then caramelized apples are sandwiched in between the slices, and the custard is poured over the whole thing. As you can see from the picture above, the end result is just about the most delicious--and calorically deadly--sandwich you could have.
I decided I couldn't have my bread pudding going out into the world naked, so I made cinnamon ice cream to go with it. (That linked recipe is just about my favorite ice cream recipe ever. And I swear, the "Elizabeth" who submitted it is not me. I would take full credit if it was!) I reserved some of the ice cream mixture before churning, so some of the bread pudding was served with cinnamon creme anglaise instead. Either way, you can't go wrong!

Here's the truth: I didn't love this right away. Of course I'm an impatient monkey and was there with my tastin' spoon the second I took the bread pudding out of the oven. I risked a burnt mouth to shovel it on in, and...I was disappointed. I don't know if I overcooked it, or what, but it was eggy and not so flavorful. Believe me, I was crushed.

But, not being willing to admit defeat, I kept tasting it in 15-minute intervals. (Ah, dinner, I hardly knew ye.) As it cooled and settled, it got better and better. Turns out patience really is a virtue! By that evening, I liked it quite a bit, especially when served warm with the cinnamon ice cream melting on top.

But the truly happy ending to this story is that I loved it the next day! I don't know what magic my refrigerator worked overnight, but when it was reheated the next day, it was amazing. Moist, flavorful, melting into the ice cream...to die for. I'm looking forward to trying this recipe again this summer with more seasonal fruits, like using fresh peaches and peach jam, maybe with ginger ice cream? Yum!

Thanks to everyone who baked along with me this week! Here are the blogs of my fellow TWD'ers who made it, and here's the recipe:

Apple-Apple Bread Pudding
From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the caramelized apples: [I actually made this times 1.5]
3 medium apples, peeled and cored (Fuji or Gala recommended)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp sugar

12 oz egg bread, such as challah or brioche, sliced 1/2" thick and stale

1 cup store-bought spiced apple butter [I used more like 2 cups]

3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Confectioner's sugar or apple jelly, for finishing

Getting Ready: Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan (like Pyrex), dust the inside with sugar and tap out the excess. Line a larger roasting pan with a double thickness of paper towels.

To Caramelize the Apples: Cut each apple into smal lchunks. Put a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter, and, when it melts, sprinkle over the sugar. Cook the butter and sugar for a minute or so--you want the sugar to caramelize but not burn, so adjust the heat accordingly. Toss in the apple slices--don't worry if the caramel seizes and lumps, it will melt and smooth out as you work--and cook, carefully turning the apples once or twice, until they are tender but not soft, 3-5 minutes. They should be golden, and some might even be caramelized. Remove from the heat.

To Make the Bread Pudding: If your bread is not stale, spread it out on a baking sheet and bake at 350 F for 10 minutes to "stale" it.

Spread one side of each slice of bread with the apple butter, then cut each slice on the diagonal to get 4 triangles. cover the bottom of the baking pan with half of the bread, arranging the triangles, buttered side up, so that they overlap slightly (don't worry about spaces between the slices.) Spoon over the apples and their liquid and finish "the sandwich" with the rest of the bread.

Bring the milk and cream just to a boil.

Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, and the 3/4 cup sugar. Still whisking, slowly drizzle in about one quarter of the hot milk mixture--this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining milk. Add the vanilla and whisk to blend. Rap the bowl against the counter to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then spoon off any foam that has risen to the top. Pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help it absorb the liquid. Leave the pan on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for about 30 minutes.

Getting Ready to Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Put the baking pan in the roasting pan, slide the setup into the oven and very carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding pan. Bake the pudding for about 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

The pudding can be served as is or dusted with confectioners' sugar just before serving. Or, if you want to give the pudding a little gloss, put about 1/2 cup apple jelly in a small pot with a splash of water. Heat until the jelly liquefiees, then brush a thin layer over the top of the pudding. Or...my personal recommendation...serve with lots of ice cream!

46 comments:

  1. Love your blog, Elizabeth! For you I'd even eat bread pudding. Congrats on getting to make your recipe pick!

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  2. My favorite dessert is bread pudding. Thanks for choosing the apple one-it's delicious. Yours looks stunning!

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  3. Well I loved your pick! Bread pudding is about the last thing I think of when I think of dessert, but I loved this. I inhaled 2 servings at lightning speed and wished for more. I used the very seasonal rhubarb.

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  4. Your last picture is making my mouth water! Cinnamon Creme Anglaise sounds incredible.

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  5. Looks wonderful.

    I love the ice cream on top.

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  6. Great pic, Liz! I had a great time baking along!

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  7. Ciao Elizabeth ! Thank you so much for hosting and for choosing this wonderful recipe !!

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  8. When your turn comes around, you have to go with what you are dying to make- more power to ya!

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  9. Oh my gosh, I'm dying for a piece of this after seeing your photos! I like bread pudding a lot but my husband doesn't, so I skipped this one. I should have made it and brought it to work. It's definitely a Big Deal to pick the recipe - congrats on making it to your week!

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  10. Ok, that looks fabulous. And the cinnamon ice cream? Ooooh. Thanks for the pick!

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  11. See, now yours looks just like what I'd hoped mine would. But alas, I didn't follow direction with the eggs and I paid the price. (Or maybe I spared myself a pound or two. ;) I'm so on an ice cream kick of late, I'll have to try cinnamon next!
    Love getting my weekly (or more) dose of Cake...OR DEATH? Thanks.

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  12. Karma was on your side with this one. I admit that I am (or was) not a fan of bread pudding, but this was not like any bread pudding I've ever had. It really did have a French toast-like ambience.
    Thanks for opening my tastebuds. :)

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  13. Great choice, Elizabeth! I liked it better the next day too!!

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  14. We loved this one, Liz! I didn't use all of the custard and I forgot to let it sit for 30 minutes, but it was still delicious (and, yes, extremely buttery and rich). Great, great pick. Thanks for hosting and enjoy your special day. ;-)

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  15. This bread pudding was a fantastic pick Liz!

    And I don't even need to say it...this is WAY better than that abomination of a Kwanzaa cake.

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  16. Total BP hater... but yours could maybe change my mind. That looks delicious.

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  17. Your bread pudding looks amazing!! Those photos are just gorgeous, especially the one with the cream dripping down! Thanks for a great pick this week! I loved this! And I love your blog!!!

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  18. Fab pudding, Liz! Oooh, and that ice cream, too! I love your writing and laughed at that quote: "Haters to the left." There are lots of bread pudding haters, but I'm not one. I adored this recipe - I amped up the apple factor by using applesauce quick bread and it's the best thing I've baked in a long time.

    My post won't be up for a while; I'm writing it now and just stopped by here to get the link to your post.

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  19. Happy TWD week! Yours looks great! I love that this is a custard base bread pudding, we all liked it.

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  20. Great choice! I actually like bread pudding, and this recipe is one of the best. Sounds like any fruit will work, too.

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  21. Great pick! The cinnamon ice cream would be great with this. I think it needed something to go with it, too.... I love 30 Rock!

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  22. Yes, it is a fearful process finding the right recipe, knowing not everyone will love it the way I did and you do. It was a wonderful pick because I LOVE bread pudding. And it is like a calorie killer sandwich. Bring it on.
    Liz - great pick!!

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  23. thanks so much for picking this--i LOVED it! and that cinnamon ice cream sounds like it would be a perfect addition.

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  24. Picking the recipe is a lot of pressure. You were right to go with what you want. Your turn only comes around once. I made this with berries and it was good. But...I kept thinking it would have been better with caramelized apples.

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  25. Im glad you liked it.It looks good.

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  26. Your pudding looks amazing. What a great idea to put cinnamon ice cream on top!

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  27. Caroline4:27 PM

    Thanks for choosing this recipe. I had never made bread pudding so it was good to expand my horizons. Your photos look so tasty!

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  28. this was tasty, so i'd say your pick was spot-on! looks delicious, esp with cinnamon ice cream!!

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  29. This was an excellent choice! The dessert definitely got better the longer you waited to eat it

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  30. Wonderful pick! I'm also a bread pudding fan! New Orleans is a great place in my book b.c of the bread pudding alone ;)

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  31. Great pick! Sooo yummy. Thanks for making me bake this this week. Yours look beautiful. I can't wait to eat it tomorrow, if it gets better with age. Yum!

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  32. Cinnamon Creme Anglaise! Stop!!! I bet that was awesome!!!

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  33. Looking at your pictures I can see exactly what this bread pudding is supposed to look like :-) I made a silly mistake with mine, I used brioche rolls and didn't make sandwiches so my pudding looks very messy. But it tasted so good as that's the main thing, right? But I think I'm going to have another go at this over the weekend. Cinnamon ice cream sounds amazing! Thank you for such a lovely pick!

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  34. Mmm, the apple-cinnamon pairing sounds just perfect. I like desserts that sort of creep up on you like that :)

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  35. Great choice. Now I might be a bread pudding-holic too. I only let mine set for 30 mins before trying it, but it must have been enough--maybe cooled faster because I made minis.

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  36. Love your blog! I'm not a big bread pudding fan but my husband is. I've never made it for him -- but I think this may be the one!

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  37. Loved it...I am a bread pudding fan from way back...I also wanted to thank you for that post about how to make your own sugar corkscrews....I think I will have to try that soon.

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  38. Good pick, I really enjoyed this and what a fun writeup!

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  39. YUM. Your pictures are amazing! I think I'm a traditional bread pudding lover, though. It just wasn't my favorite..but I sure did enjoy the process!

    gourmified.blogspot.com

    Lisa

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  40. I'm so glad that you're a fellow bread pudding-aholic. I thought about picking this one back when it was my turn, but was too chicken to listen to all the anti-BP whining that would inevitably result. Although I played around liberally with this recipe, I can't wait to try it again as written - yours looks amazing.

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  41. I'm glad it turned out well for you. I had to skip this week but since everyone seemed to like this one, I'll have to try it in the future.

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  42. Your Apple Apple bread pudding looks amazing!! :) Thanks for a fun recipe!

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  43. I'm so tardy with my post, but not because I didn't love this. It was a great pick and one I might not have tried on my own. I infused some spice into the milk and made a spiced apple butter. It was great, thanks so much. Yours with cinnamon ice cream sounds fantastic!

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  44. Sorry to be so late commenting on your bread pudding and your fabulous pictures -- I was at sea and without an internet connection (hard to believe, I know) for over a week. I'm just back and it's been such fun to see what you and other TWDers are doing. I'm delighted that this pudding worked its way into your heart. It's nice how flavors develop over time, isn't it?

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  45. That apple Apple bread pudding looks simply delicious. I am going to tweet this out to my friends to give it a shot as well if that is ok with you. thanks again.

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  46. NEW TO YOUR BLOG LIKE IT VERY MUCH THE IDEAS SOUND GREAT COULD THIS BE MADE IN A CROCK POT??

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