Now is prime apple harvesting season here in North Carolina and the largest apple-producing county in the state is Henderson County, which is just a stone’s throw away from the Lark Crafts office. The most widely grown apples in NC are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, and Galas. Of those, Rome Beauty and Golden Delicious are both excellent apple varieties to cook with, as are Fuji, Empire, Stayman, Granny Smith, and Jonagold to name a few others.
Some dishes, because they’re so simple, so delicious, and so satisfying, have caught the fancy of generations—their popularity never fades. Bread pudding is one of those dishes. And so in my salute to apple season, I give you the recipe for Apple Bread Pudding. As if that’s not yummy enough, take it up a notch with a good quality vanilla bean ice cream dusted with cinnamon.
Recipe after the jump
Apple Bread Pudding
7 Tbl butter, softened
8 slices firm, white bread
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
3/4 cup (177 ml) Apple Cider Reduction (see recipe below)
1/2 cup (152 g) quince or apple jelly
4 cooking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 Tbl confectioner’s sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 325° (163° C).
2 Coat a 6-cup (1.4 l) baking dish with 2 tablespoons of butter. Spread the remaining butter over one side of the bread slices. Cut each slice into quarters and layer the pieces inside the baking dish.
3 Whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cinnamon until well blended. Set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream, apple cider reduction, and jelly, and bring to a simmer. Then wisk together the egg and cream mixtures, and pour over the bread.
4 Place the baking dish in a roasting pan and pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the custard has set. While the pudding is baking, saute the apple slices in the remaining butter until golden, and set aside.
5 Remove the custard from the oven, dust with confectioner’s sugar, and place under a preheated broiler until the sugar is caramelized. Top with the browned apples. Serve with ice cream if desired.
Apple Cider Reduction
Note: reduction is the simple act of concentrating the flavor and increasing the body of a liquid by reducing the water in it.
4 1/2 cups (1.06 l) apple cider or fermented cider
1 Pour the apple cider into a saucepan that is large enough to be no more than half filled. Place the pan over high heat, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium—just high enough to maintain a very slow boil—and boil until the amount remaining is about 3/4 cup (177 ml). If you’re using fresh, unfiltered cider, use a small ladle to skim off the foam during this slow-boil stage. The final reduction should be as thick as maple syrup.
2 Remove the pan from the heat and allow the contents to cool. The reduction will keep for months, if it’s stored in a sterile, sealed jar. Refrigerate the jar after opening.
*Tip: for a spiced reduction, add a cinnamon stick and 2 whole cloves to the apple cider before starting the reduction process.
This recipe was excerpted from In Praise of Apples: A Harvest of History, Horticulture & Recipes, by Mark Rosenstein.