Every fall, I envy those neighbours with full-sized eating apples weighing down the branches of their apple trees; my own only bears crabapples – the small ones that are too finicky to bake into pies or do anything with that requires coring and peeling. I make jelly and applesauce, but with branches that extend far into the second story, it’s also tough to get a harvest big enough to do anything with. But I still want to use those handfuls that I do manage to pluck every autumn.
Last week, I made an apple cinnamon bread pudding. The bursts of tart apple went perfectly with the rich, creamy, eggy bread underneath; drizzled with maple syrup and topped with a dollop of whipped cream, it was the perfect weekend brunch dish. If you swapped the whipped cream for plain or vanilla yogurt, it would suit the midweek well too – a great use of stale bread, soaked in egg and milk the night before and slid into the oven to wake the house on a busy morning.
Apple Cinnamon Bread Pudding
½ baguette or loaf of good-quality crusty bread, or an assortment of bread ends (raisin bread works well here)
4 large eggs
½ cup pure maple syrup or honey
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 cups half & half
1 tsp. vanilla
a shake of cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter
10-15 crabapples, sliced or quartered, or 2 regular apples, chopped
2 Tbsp. sugar
Cut or tear the bread into 1” chunks into a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar, cream and vanilla. Pour over the bread and let sit for an hour or overnight, stirring or turning the mixture once in awhile. All the liquid should be well absorbed, but the bread shouldn’t turn to mush.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pour the bread mixture into a buttered baking dish. In a small skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat and cook the crabapples for a few minutes, until they start to soften. Sprinkle with sugar and cook until they start turning golden. Stir the apples into the bread mixture or sprinkle overtop.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until puffed and golden. Serve warm, with whipped cream if you like. Serves 6.