Bread Pudding with Apple and Pecans

I had a lot of challah left over last Friday night, and it wasn’t getting eaten very quickly. To use it up, I decided to make bread pudding.

The last time I attempted this, I made a very decadent recipe from a cookbook I bought at a historic synagogue in Charleston, South Carolina.

bread pudding, ready to bake

Bread pudding with apple and pecans, ready to bake.

This time, I wanted to try something more in line with the type of cooking I usually do, even though I’m not a big bread-eater. The recipe I came up with has one less egg and half the sugar than the more decadent recipe, plus it eliminates the butter completely. I added apples to increase the moisture, and also for their nutritional value. As well, I ground cinnamon and whole nutmeg for extra flavour.

The end result was delicious, if a bit underbaked in the middle (after 30 minutes). I had some for breakfast yesterday morning, heated, with plain Greek yogourt on top. A treat! Then I froze the rest, so I wouldn’t be tempted!

Bread Pudding with Apples and Pecans

8 cups leftover challah, cut in 1/2-inch cubes

4 cups vanilla almond milk

2 unpeeled apples, cored, quartered and sliced (I used organic Royal Gala)

fresh-ground cinnamon stick and fresh-ground whole nutmeg to taste

2 tsp. vanilla

3 large eggs

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans

1. Whisk together almond milk, vanilla, eggs and coconut sugar in large bowl.

2. In separate large bowl, mix together challah, apple and pecans.

3. Pour liquid over bread mixture and soak 15 to 20 minutes. Stir every so often, making sure all the bread is wet.

4. Oil bottom and sides of 8×12″ pan, and pour in mixture.

5. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven 30 to 40 minutes until done.



Leftover Challah (Bourbon) Pudding

Probably my favourite purchase when I visited Charleston, South Carolina last month was the cookbook Crazy Good Kugel, a project of the sisterhood of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, a beautiful synagogue with a history dating back more than 250 years.

After a tour of the sanctuary, with its wooden pews, decorative columns, and stained-glass windows, my husband and I stopped in at the gift shop, hoping to find a memento to take home. I left with two of the synagogue’s cookbooks. The other, more substantial one, is called Historically Cooking, 250 Years of Good Eating.

But what really excited me was the recipe for Leftover Challah Pudding (Kugel) in the slim, coil-bound kugel cookbook, a compilation of entries in the synagogue’s kugel cook-off. Bread pudding and bourbon (one of the ingredients in the recipe) signify Southern food, but challah is a Jewish staple, seen on Shabbat and holiday tables, and at celebratory events.

challah bourbon pudding“Look at this!” I said. The recipe was the reason I bought the book, and it also helped me formulate a guest column about Jewish food that ran last week in my colleague Sheldon Kirshner’s new online journal.

Once I returned home, I wanted to try the recipe. It’s richer and sweeter than my everyday cooking, but not as rich as some bread pudding recipes that call for half-and-half or cream instead of milk, and/or greater quantities of butter.

I used almond milk, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey, and a combination of white and multigrain challah. pudding & bourbonMy kitchen smelled sweet and boozy when the pudding was baking, and the end result was/is very tasty. Most of it is in my freezer for safekeeping, and to save it for an upcoming meal with friends.

Paige William’s recipe, below, is reprinted with permission.

Leftover Challah Pudding (Kugel)

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup bourbon (or apple juice)

8 cups cubed stale Challah (with crusts on)

4 cups milk

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

4 eggs

2 tbsp. vanilla

nutmeg to taste

3 tbsp. butter

• In a small bowl, combine the raisins and bourbon. Let stand at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.

• In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes and milk.

• Preheat oven to 350.

• In a big bowl: mix sugar, eggs, vanilla, nutmeg and raisins (with soaking liquid).

• Add the egg-raisin mixture to bread mixture.

• Place butter in a 13×9 pan and put in oven until butter melts.

• Pour bread mixture on top and bake until firm (knife inserted in middle will be clean) about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

• Cool to room temperature.

Very easy recipe to adapt. May adjust sugar to taste. Other possibilities: add pecans, dried or fresh apples/pears.

Also possible to divide recipe in half and bake for approximately 35 minutes in a 9 inch gratin dish.

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