For Thanksgiving this year, I bought a bunch of ingredients without a real plan. I like to cook that way – renegade adventurer that I am. This bread pudding recipe happened by accident. I poached some apples and didn’t love how they came out, so in order to make good use of them, I decided to use them in bread pudding.
Because eating gluten free means that I miss out on bread pudding almost all the time (the atrocity!) and because it’s one of my favorite desserts/breakfasts/snacks/meals, I decided it was my turn to glut. And glut I did.
This recipe is over the top. The sheer volume of dairy product infusion is a bit frightening. Just don’t think about it. If you have bread pudding once or twice per year, you can indulge for goodness’ sake. The dairy volume also reached crazy heights because I used a brioche recipe which is already a butter party, and then added egg nog. If you’re concerned…wait…why should you be concerned?
Okay, if you’re lactose intolerant, you could use dairy-free, gluten-free bread, and soy-nog or rice-nog for this recipe. There, you’re off the hook.
Here’s the recipe (the way I winged it):
For the poached apples:
1/2 cup Disaronno
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup rum (I used a dark Hawaiian rum, but Malibu would also work well)
1 vanilla bean, cut in half
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch, saffron
5 or 6 whole coriander seeds
For the bread pudding:
3 cups egg nog
4 large eggs
1 vanilla bean
Good pinch of salt
3/4 cup brown sugar (I used about 1/2 hickory smoked brown sugar because I had a little on hand and 1/2 dark brown sugar)
Place the apples in a pot with the Disaronno, honey, rum, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, saffron, and coriander seeds. Add enough water to cover the apples and simmer over medium heat until the apples are cooked through and the skin becomes easy to remove. Remove the apples with slotted spoon, or strain the poaching liquid into another container. My point is, you want to save this poaching liquid. It’s too good to waste. We’re going to reduce it into a caramel sauce. Once you’ve removed the apples, return the poaching liquid to the stovetop and cook it over medium heat, letting it simmer and reduce away. It takes a while, but your house will smell amazing – it’s worth the trade-off.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Meanwhile, butter a deep 9×9 inch baking dish and set aside.
Cut your bread into cubes, and place in a large bowl. Once the apples have cooled enough to handle, remove their skin and cut them into 3/4 inch cubes. Toss them together with the cubed bread.
Slice the vanilla bean in half, lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds in a separate bowl with the eggs, egg nog, brown sugar, and salt. Whisk until the ingredients are combined and the vanilla bean seeds are evenly distributed.
Put the cubed bread and apples in your buttered baking dish and pour the egg nog mixture over the top, pressing down if you need to, until all the bread is happily soaking up the nog. Let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes, then place it in the 350 degree F oven for at least an hour (mine seemed like it took closer to 1 hour, 20 minutes) until the pudding is just set in the center and the top is just beginning to become golden.
While the bread pudding is baking, keep an eye on your simmering poaching liquid, giving it a stir now and then, and making sure it’s not boiling at too high a heat. Reduce the liquid until you’ve got about one to one-and-a-half cups of caramel. It should be dark golden in color. When the bread pudding has just set, pour the caramel over the top and return the bread pudding to the oven for about 15 minutes, or until bubbly. Pull it out, and top with chopped nuts, or candied pecans.
Things that make this recipe extra romantic: local apples, and local eggs.