Monday was Rosh Hashana dinner at my parents’ house across town, and as I was leaving for the night, my mom, as she is wont to do, shoved a fully wrapped, untouched round challah into my hands. “Take it!” The first thing I thought was not thank you or are you sure you don’t want it but cinnamon-apple bread pudding.
The vision was almost divine in its clarity, so the next day, I sliced my loaf into a few pieces (to allow for some staleness to settle in; always the best kind of bread for this dessert) left it on the cutting board, and headed off to work for a few hours. I dug up the simplest bread pudding template I could find, and all day thought about how I was going to tweak the recipe so that it had that nice custardy texture broken up by a slightly crunchy-tender apple here and there. How does a craving seed just get planted like this? I’ll never understand it.
I don’t want to bore you with too much wind-up here, but after baking my vision for a half hour, I decided it wasn’t golden enough on top so flipped on the broiler for some final toasting. I didn’t set the timer — I had been obsessing about this thing all day, it’s not like I was just going to forget about it and walk into the next room and get into a deep drill-down discussion on college applications with my high school senior, you know? Who would do that during a one-minute broil?
Mom, I’m so sorry I wasted your beautiful challah!
The good news is that I doubled down on my determination and made it again the next night. Even though I had to swing by Trader Joe’s to pick up another challah, and decided to add an egg, and switch the baking dish size to allow for more “soakage,” it was still by all accounts super easy to throw together and delicious. More important, maybe, the whole house smelled like fall.
Cinnamon-Apple Bread Pudding
3 tablespoons butter, plus more for pan-greasing
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
5 cups cubed bread (such as challah), preferably a little stale
3 small-medium apples, peeled and cubed
3 eggs, beaten
powdered sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat. Whisk in milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar and heat until just warmed through. Remove saucepan from heat.
Butter a 9×9 baking dish. Add half the bread, layer with apples, then top with remaining bread.
Once milk mixture is cooled, whisk eggs into it. (If you are as impatient as I am and don’t want to wait for the milk to cool, you can also temper the eggs, by whisking about a 1/3 cup of the warm mixture into them, then whisking that egg mixture back into the saucepan. If that sounds confusing, just ignore this entire parenthetical.)
Pour milk-egg mixture over bread, making sure every cube is a little damp.
Bake 35-40 minutes. Broil for the last 2 or 3 if it doesn’t look toasty and golden enough. But don’t forget about the broiler.
Let cool on a rack. Once it has mostly cooled, sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. It’s really delicious served warm (and with ice cream, natch), but room temp is fine, too.
Yum! Making this tonight. Perfect dessert for after soccer. Yay for Fall in Maine! Did I miss what temp to bake at?
whoops, just added in oven temp. thank you!
I had to laugh, we have been doing the drill-down discussion dance with Z this whole past month! L coming home for the weekend, and I am totally making this with the girls tomorrow. Perfect timing for this post–and it’s looks beautifully delicious too! Thanks Jenny!
I guess it makes sense that you are having those conversations with Z if I’m having them with P, but I still can’t believe it. xoxoxo
This looks amazing and is the perfect dessert to make for my three boys and husband this weekend. Also, I can’t even handle reading about you helping your daughter with college applications. It seems like just yesterday I was pouring over your blog, making all the good food—but even more, being comforted by your stories of early morning risings (and subsequent early morning dinner prep) with your younger daughter. The best part is, you lived to tell the tale that you all survived it—and I was in the throws of 5:30am wake up calls with my oldest, who is now almost ten years old. Time can be so fleeting when we look back fondly at what was once a seemingly endless blur of exhaustion in those super early hours before the sun came up. Also, I loved scrolling down to discover the burnt bread pudding dish—so real, we’ve all been there, lol! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you Suzie. This made my day.
Oh, this comment made me cry. Going to squeeze my 11-month-old, turning 1 next week old daughter extra tight!
Would you find fault with this dish if I added a splash of bourbon to the milk mixture??
You’re kidding right? As my husband would say, how could that be bad? 🙂
haha keepin it real!
Oh my…nothing can kill your dinner like the dang broiler! This post made me feel less alone in my love/hate relationship with this friend/foe oven setting. You know what they say about misery…
Anyway to make this dairy free?
Can you add all the ingredients and soak overnight then bake the next morning or would it be too mushy?
Any way to make this dairy free?
I made this with the bread I had (half of a leftover French loaf and a couple of sandwich bread ends) and it was delicious! I’m not a big bread pudding fan, but I would make this again and again.
Recipe looks amazing, thanks, Jenny! I’m thinking about making this for company next weekend and know that sometimes bread puddings come out of the oven a little jiggly. About how long should I allow this to cool/solidify and still be warm?
I made this and have been eating it for breakfast this week! It’s so exciting to wake up to every morning.