When I was looking for a base to make the rosemary hazelnut bread pudding, I decided on this one. On looking at the list of ingredients, I thought it would be a shame to use this just as a base when it sounded so good. So I made a batch of this, as well. The caramelized apples with the apple butter just melt in your mouth. I wish I had a piece right now.
apple-apple bread pudding (Baking, Dorie Greenspan)
caramelized apples 3 medium apples, peeled and cored (Dorie recommends Fujis or Galas; I used Granny Smith)
3 T butter
3 T sugar
12 oz. egg bread (I can never find brioche, so I used English toasting bread), sliced .5" thick
1 C spiced apple butter
3 C whole milk
1 C heavy cream
3 large eggs
5 large egg yolks
.75 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Cut each apple in half from top to bottom, cut each half lengthwise into 6-8 slices, and then cut each slice in half crosswise.
Put a large skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat, add the butter, and when it melts, sprinkle over the sugar. Cook the butter and sugar for a minute or so--you want the sugar to caramelize but not burn, so adjust the heat accordingly. Toss in the apple slices--don't worry if the caramel seizes and lumps, it will melt and smooth out as you work--and cook, carefully turning the apples once or twice, until they are tender but not soft, 3-5 minutes. They should be golden, and some might even be caramelized. Transfer the apples and the liquid to a plate.
(I tore my bread into pieces before staling it, rather than retaining the whole slices.) If your bread is not stale, spread it out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and bake at 350 F to "stale" it for 10 minutes.
Spread one side of each slice of bread with the apple butter, then cut each slice on the diagonal to get 4 triangles. (I put my bread chunks and apple butter in a bowl and tossed them until they were coated.) Cover the bottom of the baking pan with half of the bread, arranging the triangles, buttered side up, so that they overlap slightly (don't worry about spaces between the slices). Spoon over the apples and their liquid and finish "the sandwich" with the rest of the bread.
Bring the milk and cream just to a boil.
Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat. (I skipped this step, as I couldn't find my roasting pan to be able to put my baking pan in it.) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, and the .75 C sugar. Still whisking, slowly drizzle in about one quarter of the hot milk mixture--this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining milk. Add the vanilla and whisk to blend. Rap the bowl against the counter to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then spoon off any foam that has risen to the top. Pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help it absorb the liquid. Leave the pan on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for about 30 minutes.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F.
Put the baking pan in the roasting pan, slide the setup into the oven and very carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding pan. Bake the pudding for about 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.
The pudding can be served as is or dusted with confectioners' sugar just before serving. Or, if you want to give the pudding a little gloss, put about .5 C apple jelly in a small pot with a splash of water. Heat until the jelly liquefies, then brush a thin layer over the top of the pudding.