In her magnificent latest book, Flavorful, Tish Boyle goes to the max in fashioning grand desserts. The book is devoted to her, and probably yours, favorite flavors. We all seem to tend to vanilla and coffee and caramel. And apple.
Bread pudding began as a sort of “second rate” dessert, one that used stale bread so nothing was wasted. Here there is no stale bread. Fresh croissants, or day old, are studded with apple butter and apple cubes that have been cooked in butter and sugar.
You do want to bake this in a water bath to ensure you get a creamy texture. Without that tempered cooking process, the custard can break and you’ll be denied the beauty of this dish.
There is a recipe in Flavorful for apple butter, another reason to get your own copy, but Tish says you can use an upscale store-bought brand.
Never ever had bread pudding? Turn your nose up? That was me until a few years ago when Suzi began offering bread pudding on the menu for her cooking school, Cooking by the Book. I was rather amazed at how many people picked bread puddings off the menu. And I was totally amazed at how good they can be. Needless to say, this recipe is destined for our menu and will surely please everyone. Perhaps even you!
For my review of Flavorful, here you go.
Apple Croissant Bread Pudding
Yield: 6 servings
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium Granny Smith or Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½ -inch cubes
- ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
- 6 tablespoons Apple Butter divided
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 ⅓ cups heavy cream
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 large all-butter croissants, either fresh or 1 day old
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 ½ teaspoons brandy or dark rum
1. Butter the interior of a shallow 1 ½ quart baking dish (I used a 12-by-8-inch oval).
2. In a large skillet, heat the butter over high heat until melted and foamy. Add the apples and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the sugar on top of the apples and add 1 tablespoon of the apple butter; continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside to cool.
3. Combine the milk, cream, and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until the mixture just begins to boil. Remove the pan from the heat.
4. Using a serrated knife, cut each croissant in half crosswise (as if you were going to use them for a sandwich). Spread each cut side of 2 bottom halves and 3 top halves with 1 tablespoon apple butter. Cut the remaining bottom half into ½ -inch cubes. Arrange the apple butter—coated bottom halves of the croissants in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Scatter the croissant cubes in the empty areas of the pan. Scatter the cooked apple cubes on top of the croissants. Cut each of the croissant tops in half to make half-crescent shapes and arrange them, cut side down, over the apples.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the remaining ½ cup sugar until well blended. Remove the cinnamon stick from the warm milk mixture and gradually whisk the liquid into the egg mixture. Whisk in the vanilla and brandy. Slowly pour the liquid into the baking dish, over the croissants. Spoon the custard mixture over the croissant tops so they will be glazed when baked. Allow the unbaked pudding to stand at room temperature for minutes before baking. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325°F.
6. Place the pan of bread pudding into a larger pan, such as a roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan so that it comes about 1 inch up the sides of the baking dish. Cover the pan with a piece of buttered aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the pudding is just set and slightly puffed around the edges. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. Cover any leftover pudding and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Source: Flavorful by Tish Boyle [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015]