Just in time to kick off the fall season ... crisp apples, brown sugar and warm spices come together in this easy-to-assemble dessert. Bread pudding is one of the simplest desserts to make. This is essentially a bread pudding, but has similarities to an upside-down cake. Serving it warm, room temperature or cold is up to you. But, topping it with a dusting of powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream is totally recommended.
The recipe begins with some melted butter and brown sugar marrying in the bottom of a cake pan. A sprinkling of sliced almonds is nestled around the slices of apple - just for some added crunch. Day-old bread chunks are mixed up with a vanilla custard that has been kissed with cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. The custard-y bread is pressed into the buttery brown sugar and apple layer. Baked gently to keep everything moist and gooey, this dessert - once set a bit - is turned out onto a pretty cake platter for presentation and service to guests.
In regards to the bread, I've found that the sky is almost the limit when it comes to making bread pudding. I've used dinner rolls, sliced bread, buns and even leftover donuts. Sometimes I have even used a combination of different types of bread that I had on hand. I prefer to use day-old bread that is a little on the stale side, but I do recommend to, at least, allow the bread chunks to sit out on the counter to dry out a little before making this recipe if you're using very fresh bread.
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
1 large, crisp apple, peeled and thinly sliced just before use in recipe
2 - 3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 large eggs
2 cups whole milk (heavy cream can be used in place of 1 cup of milk for extra richness)
1 tablespoon good-quality vanilla extract
11 ounces day-old bread, torn into small chunks
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly spray a 9 - 11 inch round metal cake or tart pan with non-stick spray. Place butter in pan. Put pan in oven and allow butter to melt. (Do not burn butter.) Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle 1/2 cup brown sugar over butter and stir to lightly moisten sugar with butter. Arrange apple slices towards the center of pan on top of the butter and brown sugar mixture in an overlapping circular pattern.
Sprinkle almonds around the edge of pan. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Add in milk, eggs and vanilla. Whisk until custard-like consistency is reached. Add bread chunks into custard. Stir to thoroughly coat bread. Allow to sit on counter for 3 - 5 minutes while bread begins to slightly absorb some of the liquid. Pour bread/custard mixture on top of apples in pan. Lightly use spoon to press bread down into pan in an even layer.
Bake for fifteen minutes, reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and continue baking for an additional 35 - 40 minutes or until custard is set. Transfer pan to a cooling rack on counter. Allow to rest for 20 - 30 minutes. Top pan with a cake platter or large plate, then invert.
Serve warm, at room temperature or cold per your preference. Top with powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if desired at time of service.
Recipe inspired by Recipe for Perfection.