Apple Brandy Bread Pudding

One of my favorite desserts to make over the holidays is bread pudding. It is a great way to use up old bread because the drier that a bread is, the more it will soak up the custard. You also do not have to be extremely precise unlike other desserts – you can easily use more or less bread or custard depending on your preferences. You can also pretty much go any route with it – sweet or savory. And if it’s the holidays, I think having a brandy/whiskey/rum/bourbon sauce to go along with it is essential!

I have made a bananas foster bread pudding with a vanilla rum sauce in the past, so I decided to go with a different one this time. While looking for recipes over the holidays, I fell in love with Food and Wine’s Yearly Compilations that have the recipes from every month together in one place. Though I subscribe to Bon Appetit, I have to confess that the amount of advertising in that magazine really detracts from the recipes, and having a yearly compilation means that I get a giant cooking magazine, with just recipes and no ads. I finally ended up settling on this apple bread pudding from  Food & Wine’s website. You can alter the level of sweetness in this recipe depending on your taste – I personally like a little less sugar, letting the sweetness of the apples and raisins complement the warming flavors of cinnamon and brandy. My two main tips  for bread puddings are – 1) you should cut the crust off the bread, and then cut the bread into cubes and leave it out to dry overnight. Then it’ll be sure to absorb more of the custard, 2) if you are using raisins or fruit, you can infuse them with the brandy (or whatever else the recipe calls for), to ensure that the raisins soften a little bit, get more plump, and get more flavor.

Apple Brandy Bread Pudding

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine Magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 pound brioche, cut into 1-inch pieces without the crust
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Calvados or other brandy (I used Calvados)
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 cup raisins, soaked in brandy
  • Whipped cream or crème fraîche, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. If you did not leave the bread to dry out overnight, spread the brioche on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly golden and dry. If you did, you can skip this step.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt the butter; reserve 2 tablespoons of the melted butter in a small bowl. Add the apples and 1/4 cup of the sugar to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden and softened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon. Remove from the heat and add the Calvados. Return the skillet to the heat and cook until the sauce is syrupy, about 1 minute. Apple Brandy Bread Pudding
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the milk and the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the custard (save the vanilla bean for another use). Add the brioche, raisins, and apples and toss until evenly coated. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the brioche to absorb the custard.
  5. Brush an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the reserved melted butter. Add the bread pudding and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of melted butter on top. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the custard is set and the top is golden. Let the bread pudding cool slightly, then serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche

 

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with Vanilla Rum Sauce

What happens when you combine bananas, rum, raisins, toasted pecans and custard? A decadent dessert that is perfect for the holiday season. One of the best bread puddings that I’ve ever had was at Bonton Cafe in New Orleans, which was served with a whiskey sauce. However, that whiskey sauce was way too strong for me, so this recipe, with its mild rum sauce is perfect for those of us who don’t like a particularly strong whiskey or bourbon taste in our desserts.

This recipe gives around 12-14 servings, so feel free to cut it in half. However, you’re gonna regret it the minute it gets over, so I would suggest making this large a batch. The rum sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance, and can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Just warm it up and drizzle on the bread pudding to serve!

bbp_opt

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, March 1995

INGREDIENTS
Banana Bread Pudding:

  • 2/3 cup raisins or currants
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 6 bananas, peeled, halved crosswise and then lengthwise
  • 10 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups whipping cream
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extracts
  • 2 large baguettes, dried, with crusts off, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Rum Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons dark rum

DIRECTIONS

FOR BANANA BREAD PUDDING:

  • Combine raisins and 4 tablespoons rum in a small bowl. Let stand 20 minutes.
  • Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add bananas and 4 tablespoons sugar and cook until bananas are tender, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat.

    Cooking the bananas until they get tender

    Cooking the bananas until they get tender

  • In a different bowl, combine whipping cream, eggs, vanilla extract and remaining 1/2 cup rum and 6 tablespoons sugar and whisk to blend.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 17 x 11-inch loaf pan. Arrange 1/3 of bread strips cubes in bottom of prepared pan. Make sure the bread cubes are packed tightly. Arrange 6 banana pieces atop bread. Sprinkle with half of raisins and half of pecans. Arrange 1/3 of bread cibes atop bananas. Pour half of egg mixture over. Arrange remaining banana pieces atop bread. Sprinkle with remaining raisins and pecans. Arrange remaining bread cubes atop bananas. Pour remaining egg mixture over. Press gently on top layer to compact. Let stand 15 minutes.

    Topping the first layer of bread cubes with the cooked bananas, rum-soaked raisins and chopped toasted pecans

    Topping the first layer of bread cubes with the cooked bananas, rum-soaked raisins and chopped toasted pecans

  • Bake bread pudding until puffed and golden and knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool slightly.
  • Cut bread pudding into slices. Arrange on plates; drizzle with warm Rum Sauce and serve.

RUM SAUCE (Makes about 2 cups):

  • Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cream, sugar and salt. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves.

    Making the rum sauce, waiting until the sauce starts to bubble

    Making the rum sauce, waiting until the sauce starts to bubble

  • Remove from heat. Stir in rum. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over low heat, stirring constantly.)  

    Mixing in the rum after taking the sauce off the heat

    Mixing in the rum after taking the sauce off the heat

Drizzle a tablespoon (or more, if you like!) of warm rum sauce on a serving of bread pudding. Hope you guys had a lovely Christmas and have a great rest of the holiday season as well 🙂
Ready to be served!

Ready to be served!

Pumpkin-Raisin Bread

The semester’s finally over and I could not be more relieved! After a  brutal few months, I’m really looking forward to some relaxing, guilt-free baking sessions. I was still missing pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving, so I tried to recreate something with pumpkins that was a lot healthier.

Try making this pumpkin-raisin bread – with only half a cup of sugar, this bread substitutes oil with a healthy applesauce, making a great morning or afternoon bite. It would probably taste much better with fresh pumpkin puree, so go ahead and use that if you have fresh pumpkin lying around! I also threw in some semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, and other options include chopped walnuts and pecans.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (you can also use an equal amount of vegetable oil as a substitute)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, applesauce, sugar, and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg; stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended. Add the raisins and chocolate chips and mix well.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The top of the loaf should spring back when lightly pressed.
Pumpkin Bread with Raisins and Chocolate Chips

Pumpkin Bread with Raisins and Chocolate Chips

Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce

I’ve tried to make bread pudding before and it didn’t turn out great. I’ve finally learned from the mistakes made and here’s the best recipe that I’ve come up with so far. To be fair, it’s a concoction of a couple of different recipes. Here are the mistakes that I made and that you need to keep in mind:

  • This recipes requires dry bread. Cutting up fresh bread and immediately using that means that it’ll absorb most of the custard, totally ruining the consistency. This time the bread was cut up, and left outside for about a 1 and a 1/2 days so that it was nice and dry, but obviously not dry and brittle. You just need it dry enough so that it isn’t moist enough to absorb liquid.
  • Some recipes require you to add nutmeg to the rum sauce. That was a total no-no for me, totally ruins the taste according to me.

Ingredients – Bread Pudding

4-5 cups of a day/day and a half old French bread with the crust removed (I also used cinnamon bread since I didn’t have enough French bread)

1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons of sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 eggs

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup seedless raisins

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Rum Sauce

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

3 tablespoons Rum (though I might have used slightly less while making the sauce since you need to use it according to whether you want a strong sauce or not. Using slightly less Rum made the perfect sauce according to me)

Leaving the bread out to dry

Making the Rum Sauce

Directions

1. Cut the crust off the bread and chop into small cubes and leave it for a day so that it loses some moisture. Place in a 9 x 9 baking dish.

2. Sprinkle cinnamon over bread. Add raisins and melted butter. Toss this all together.

3. Toast lightly in 350F oven. Just remove when it starts turning a color of light brown.

4. For the custard: Blend a mixture of eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla extract. Pour over the toasted bread, toss it all together and bake for 45 minutes at 350F until solid.

For the Rum Sauce:

1. Cream butter and sugar. Remember, never put butter in a microwave to melt it. You need to leave it out at room temperature for a few hours and then it becomes really easy to cream it. You can mix the two using a fork easily.

2. Add vanilla to the above and stir in the eggs. Then add the rum.

3. Heat the above mixture over low heat for above 5 minutes and keep stirring it.

Pour the rum sauce warm over the bread pudding after it has baked and cooled.

The final product!