I love a good bread pudding. There is something comforting about the combination of sweet custard and old bread, cooked so the custard infuses and surrounds the bread with creamy delight while the top browns to a nice crisp crunchy crustiness. My traditional recipe marries the custard with lemon and adds a bit of fruit to the mix with raisins. The recipe was given to me in ancient days (1971) by a friend who used dark cherries as the fruit of choice. She said her bread pudding was always the first thing to go at church suppers.
Since it is wonderful autumn and since apples are seasonal right now, I decided to use up some stale French bread by making Apple Raisin Cinnamon Bread Pudding, based on that old recipe. I kept the lemon zest in the custard mixture and I think that made it even better. A good dose of Penzey's cinnamon and a grating of fresh nutmeg kept the fall theme going. I used Golden Delicious apples, which keep their shape and are mellow in flavor. I didn't peel them, but you could if you prefer. For milk I used whole milk because I had enough, but I often use nonfat evaporated milk and it is delicious and a bit healthier.
Sweetie served us extra large portions for dessert and then I had a much smaller portion for lunch today. I think it may have been even better than last night. Of course that may have been because I had just finished painting the new laundry room wall with the drywall primer, so I was eating over an hour later than usual.
If you try this without the lemon could you let me know how you like it that way? Do try this. It is easy, delicious, and a great way to pretend that you are a thrifty French housewife, using up the stale bread. Bon apetit!
Bread Pudding with Apples and Raisins and CinnamonA recipe from 1971, from a Fredricksburg,
4 cups dry bread cubes 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk, scalded 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 slightly beaten eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sugar 1 cup fresh apple, cut into small chunks (peel or not - I didn't)
½ teaspoon lemon zest 1/4 cup raisins
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Melt the butter in the milk. Add a little of the milk to the beaten eggs, then add eggs to rest of milk. Stir in the sugar, lemon zest, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla.
3) Put the bread cubes in a large bowl. Pour the egg/milk mixture over, stir gently, and let sit 15 minutes.
4) Butter a large baking pan. A deep one will give a softer center, a shallower one will give more crispy crust. Gently stir apples and raisins into bread mixture and pour into baking pan.
5) Bake in a pan of hot water until firm, about 1 hour. Serve warm.