This weekend was what dreams are made of — crisp fall wind flowing through my hair trying to rip my hat from my head at every turn. Driving out of the city and into Maryland where the winding roads are lined with big beautiful trees that are painted yellow and orange. Roadside BBQ that *might* have been better than any Texas BBQ I ever experienced growing up. (Don't tell my family!) I cannot even explain to you how perfect it was. I'd been looking forward to picking apples since the idea popped in my head after failed halloween plans a few weeks prior.
My Halloweens growing up were spent pretty typically — trick-or-treating accompanied by sugar comas. In college, they were just as predictable. So when I decided to ditch my costume and head out to Catoctin Mountain Orchard to pick my very own pink lady apples I was elated. Seriously, I could barely sleep the night before as if it were Christmas Eve and I was seven years old again.
I was so excited for apple picking and the baking that I knew would ensue afterward, I already had my recipe picked out. I saw this Apple Bourbon Bread Pudding from The Whisking Kitchen (aka another young gal sharing great recipes and great photos!) featured on Real Simple's Instagram. This dish is pure comfort and beauty. Pink Lady apples are my favorite — I love them for several reasons, aside from their precious name, they are perfect for baking! They can withstand the heat of baking long enough to really absorb other flavors without becoming mushy and left uncooked they are crisp and fragrant and such an incredibly gorgeous fruit. I urge you to enjoy this dish right out of the oven, warm and curled up on your couch with hot cider or tea.
Some recipes remain special enough that you can pull them from your head at any time. You stow them away in your memory and bring them out to comfort a friend in need or impress new in-laws. Special recipes that cannot be forgotten because all of the elements for perfection align — taste, comfort and ease. They just get better as time goes on and as they are shared in more places and with more people. I know this recipe will become one of the special ones for me.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- Cube your bread loaf (I used sourdough and this worked really well, but in the original recipe a french baguette is used)
- In a medium sauce pan heat brown sugar, milk, and butter together on low heat until brown sugar has melted. In a extra large mixing bowl add in cubed bread. Pour warm milk mixture over cubed bread. *A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE!* Bread loafs may very in size and you may not need all of the mixture. Pour enough onto cubed bread until moist but not saturated. This will cause your bread pudding to turn to mush — in the words of The Whisking Kitchen, "Then you will have mush pudding, and no one wants that." I agree 100%!
- While bread mixture is soaking begin to brown your diced apples. In a large dutch oven (I used my cast iron skillet and it worked perfectly!) heat two tablespoons of butter on medium low until simmering. Add in apples and cook for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Add in brown sugar, raisins, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Keep on medium-low heat stirring frequently until most of the brown sugar has dissolved and the mixture is sticky.
- In a large casserole dish pour in cubed bread and top with apple mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
- In a small sauce pan heat heavy cream, brown sugar and butter on low heat until brown sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon. Pour over warm bread pudding.