I don’t know about you, but I can never resist the smell of bread pudding baking in the oven. It’s one of those things that can drive you a little mad – and make you want to dig in before it’s cooled down enough to eat.
This recipe is an all-time favorite. The cranberries add a bit of tartness to the sweet apples, while the Calvados makes the pudding a grown-up affair.
Although this dessert will taste perfectly delicious with vanilla ice cream, the rosemary gelato truly transforms it into a festival of flavor. And the last touch – the apple cider reduction – intensifies the apple flavors and brings extra moistness to the puddings.
For a sophisticated touch, serve this dessert in individual portions, as shown above. But if that feels too daunting, you can also bake your bread pudding in a single dish and serve it family style. Either way, I promise, everyone will be scraping their plates and licking their spoons!
Food & wine pairing: Canada, Icewine with apple-cranberry bread puddings
If you make this dessert for a dinner party or a special occasion, then serving a dessert wine with it would be totally appropriate. Try an Icewine from Canada or Germany (spelled Eiswein), or a sweet Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley. Both would be stunning with these bread puddings.
Apple-cranberry bread puddings with rosemary gelato and cider-Calvados reduction
active time: 40 min
For the apple mixture
- 1 1/4 lbs (565 g) Jonagold, Empire or McIntosh apples (3 large) – peeled, cored and cut in 1/2″ pieces
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup fresh (or frozen) cranberries – coarsely chopped (use a food processor)
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (use a microplane grater)
- 1/4 cup Calvados (or Brandy)
- 6 oz (170 g) brioche or Challah bread – cut in 1/2″ cubes
For the custard
- 3 extra large eggs – lightly beaten
- 1 extra large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the reduction
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1/3 cup organic sugar
- 1/2 cup Calvados (or Brandy)
- 1 recipe rosemary gelato with crème fraîche (or vanilla ice cream)
- 8 half-cup-capacity ramequins (or 1 medium ceramic baking dish) – buttered and floured
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180ºC).
- Step 1: Place the apple pieces in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice. Add the cranberries, sugar, orange zest and Calvados and toss well. Add the brioche or Challah cubes, toss again and set aside.
- Step 2: To make the custard – In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, cream, milk and cinnamon until well blended. Pour the custard into the apple mixture and toss. Let stand for 5 minutes so that the bread soaks up some of the liquids. Spoon the mixture into the prepared ramequins (or prepared baking dish) up to 1/4” from rim. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until the bread puddings are golden-brown and bubbly.
- Step 3: To make the reduction – Place the apple cider and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high to medium and fast-simmer, uncovered, until the liquid has almost completely evaporated and the syrup looks foamy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Within a few seconds, the foam will become two shades darker (be careful not to burn the syrup at this stage). Immediately add the Calvados and continue simmering for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Step 4: When the bread puddings are warm, but not hot, un-mold them. Then place each pudding in the center of a dessert plate, top-side-up. Top each pudding with a small scoop of rosemary gelato or vanilla ice cream, drizzle with the reduction and serve. Alternatively, if the bread pudding was made in a single baking dish, spoon the pudding in dessert bowls, scoop gelato or ice cream on the side, drizzle with the reduction and serve.
- Cook’s note: The bread puddings can be made up to 2 days ahead. To serve, re-heat at 350°F (180ºC) for 5 to 8 minutes. They will lose their flavor if refrigerated for a longer time. Serve warm.