I’ve never been a bread pudding girl. I still remember when I made one for the first time, when I was about 13 years old, from one of those spiral bound “My First Cookbook” type things. It was a plain bread pudding with slices of white bread soaked in the eggy custard. And I remember being bitterly disappointed. For some reason, I had expected the custard to be loose and creamy, like those Jell-O puddings you buy in cups in the store! The slightly firm custard of the bread pudding didn’t seem like much of a pudding to me.
Since then, my tastes have grown up a little bit (thankfully!), but I’ve still never really been drawn to bread pudding. I guess in my mind, I thought, “Been there, done that.”
When finally this morning I was looking for something to use up my stock of dried cherries, and all the recipes on Epicurious that used dried cherries seemed to be bread puddings! So I choose what seemed a likely one, a cinnamon-raisin bread pudding with apples, added my dried cherries to the mix, and tadaa!
It was surprisingly good, actually. The apples are a nice counterpoint to the creamy custard, cutting the richness a little bit. Next time, I’ll add some cinnamon to give it more of a jolt. And I think the cherries work well with the apples, though next time I’ll be sure to use sour cherries instead of sweet to give a little more complexity to this sweet dish.
So, the bread pudding was a qualified success. The few little changes I mentioned might put it over the top and make it really delicious, but as is, it was pretty good.
Apple and Dried Cherry Bread Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet 2005
2 Gala apples, peeled and chopped
8 slices cinnamon raisin bread
½ cup dried unsweetened cherries
3 cups half-and-half (or 1 ½ cups each of milk and whipping cream)
½ cup and 3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
6 large eggs
Preheat oven to 375 F and butter two pie plates or one 9×13” dish.
Toss the apples with the 3 tbsp sugar and cook in a saucepan over med-low heat until golden and just tender (10-15 min).
Cut bread into 1.5 inch squares and toast in oven until browned and crisp.
Mix together the half-and-half (or cream and milk), vanilla, eggs, ½ cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl.
Toss together the bread and apples and arrange in the pie plates or baking dish. Sprinkle with dried cherries. Pour custard mixture over the bread mixture and let sit for 15-20 minutes, pressing on bread every so often to help submerge it.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until custard is set around sides but still a little jiggly in the middle. Let cool (custard will continue to set as it sits) and serve.
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