Apple House Bread Pudding

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Happy Holidays to everyone! I hope you have a wonderful holiday season filled with warmth and cheer. Nothing makes me feel warm and fuzzy more than enjoying some bread pudding, seasonal beer, and good company on a winter evening.

I’m going to try and keep this one short and sweet.  Many of you have never heard of the Apple House because you don’t live anywhere near Front Royal, VA. The Apple House is a small restaurant that features delicious apple baked goods, and they are famous for their fresh baked Apple Butter Cinnamon Donuts, which have been made the same way since 1963. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend stopping through at the Apple House to pick up some of these delicious beauties.

Apple House

Apple House Apple Butter Cinnamon Donuts

It will come as no surprise to you, based on the fact that you’re reading this blog, that every now and then the Apple House creates a bread pudding from left over donuts. As it turns out, if your girlfriend happens to write a blog about bread pudding, and you bring her surprise bread pudding from the Apple House, you will earn a lot of points.*

*Points issued by girlfriend have no monetary value but can sometimes be redeemed for a beer or two at Dogfish Head, depending on girlfriend’s mood.

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Apple House bread pudding

The bread pudding from Apple House is very compact and heavy due to the hearty texture of the donuts, so a small slice is all one can really handle. However, the flavor is quite enjoyable, with strong notes of apple and cinnamon and just a hint of maple. The texture is cake-y, and it does not pull apart as lightly as one would expect. The entire mass comes smothered in sugary glaze, which seeps into the pudding when warmed up. Due to the sugar of the donuts and the added glaze, the overall taste is quite sweet, almost overwhelmingly so.  If you’re sugar-averse, this probably isn’t the dish for you. I can pretty much live off of sugar and butter, so I thought it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Mesmerizing

That’s all I’ll write about this particular bread pudding, except to say that I would happily eat this any day of the week.

Beer Review

enjoy-bottle-12-26Sean reviewed the Stone Brewing Enjoy By 12.26.2014, which was bottled on November 21, 2014. This beer is unique in that it is not supposed to be aged. I love the text on the bottle:

“You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. While freshness is a key component of many beers – especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs – we’ve taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA. You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last. We’ve not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you’re getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the label, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and consumers. Instead, we’ve sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA.”

 

Although I have some notes here, I will post with Sean’s full review soon. Or never. There’s about a 50/50 shot that I will remember to do this. Here’s a beer wheel!

 

Douchy beer wheel

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding and Pumpkin Beer Tasting

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Oh, hello there! It is early fall, which means it is time to….

pumpkin

And we did. Oh, we pumpkin’d ALL the things. The things we pumpkin’d were, specifically – bread pudding, rice crispy treats, pumpkin seeds, and beer.

Quick note on the rice crispy treats before getting to the good stuff. This came about because I found pumpkin spice marshmallows at the grocery store and thought to myself, “this could either be really delicious or really horrible.” I decided to take my chances, and was pleasantly surprised with the subtle pumpkin flavor of the marshmallows. Microwaved and mixed up with butter and cocoa krisps, and you have a fun little treat that takes only a minute to prepare and tastes great!

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What do you think? Gross or delicious?

My real focus of the night was making pumpkin chocolate chip bread pudding. There are a number of good recipes out there, and I typically jump to AllRecipes.com for inspiration. Much of the credit goes to this recipe from AllRecipes user JJCUNEO, which I used as the base and added some tweaks to make it my own.

Here is what I used, and if you don’t care about the recipe, skip to the bottom to read about BEER!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

IngredientsDSC07711
Bread Pudding
3 eggs
9 egg yolks
4-1/2 cups whole milk
1-1/2 cups sugar
2-1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
~11 cups challah (or white bread) cubes
1 bag (12 oz) miniature chocolate chips
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Caramel Sauce (optional)
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions
Bread Pudding
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease 9×13 pan.
2. Whisk together the egg and egg yolks in a large bowl. Add the milk, sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; whisk into a smooth batter. Add the challah cubes and toss gently to dampen. Set aside for 15 minutes.
3. Pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and brown sugar over evenly.
4. Bake in preheated oven until pudding is golden brown and puffy, about 50 minutes; transfer to cooling rack for 10 minutes.

Optional Caramel Sauce
Place the sugar in the bottom of a deep saucepan and heat over medium heat. As the sugar melts, start whisking. Once it comes to a boil, stop stirring. As soon as all of the sugar is a light amber color, carefully add the butter and whisk until melted.
Remove the pan from the heat. Carefully and slowly add the cream then once it settles down, whisk to incorporate. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes then transfer to a heat-proof container. Cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Serve warm on top of bread pudding.

Add some whipped cream on top and enjoy!

Beer Review

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All the beer, ready to drink!

One of the many reasons I love Sean is that he introduced me to Total Wine and More, which is pretty much the greatest place on this planet aside from, obviously, Wegmans. Total Wine has a huge selection of beer, but the best part is that you can create custom 6-packs from almost anything you want in their vast beer aisles.

We knew we wanted to have a ton of pumpkin beer to drink for this event, but really didn’t plan any further than that. While looking around Total Wine for pumpkin beer, Sean and I both turned to each other and said at the same time, “Let’s do a pumpkin beer tasting!” Off we went to collect a nice selection of beer. In the end, there were many more options available, the selection we picked included the following (sort of in order in the picture from left to right):

  1. Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider (just added for the ew factor) – 6.90% ABV
  2. Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ale – 5.70% ABV
  3. Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale – 5.84% ABV
  4. Magic Hat Wilhelm Scream Pumpkin Ale – 5.40% ABV
  5. Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin – 9.00% ABV
  6. Southern Tier Brewing Company Pumking – 8.60% ABV
  7. Weyerbacher Brewing Company Imperial Pumpkin Ale – 8.00% ABV
  8. Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – 7.00% ABV
  9. AleWerks Brewing Co. Pumpkin Ale – 8.00% ABV

I won’t go into too much detail about each beer, but I think we found a good range of tastes. The cider was absolutely disgusting, and there were mixed opinions on the Sam Adams, Shipyard, and the Weyerbacher. I think people largely enjoy the Dogfish Head and Magic Hat, since those are pretty familiar to the group.

I would say that there were definitely two clear favorites. Sean’s pick, the AleWerks Pumpkin Ale, has a high ABV but goes down smooth, with a strong pumpkin aroma and had one of the most pleasant pumpkin tastes out of the selection of beer. There is a light hops flavor and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, and overall got a positive response from the group.

However, I think we all agreed that the clear winner was our friend Brett’s submission to the bunch, the Southern Tier Imperial Pumking. The beer smells strongly of pumpkin and has an orange-ish amber hue. The taste has a solid pumpkin & spice flavor, significant but at the same time completely pleasant and almost sweet, with a hint of caramel. At almost 9% ABV, this was amazingly still one of the smoothest beers out of the group we tasted. Pumking is truly a treat in a bottle, perfect for a chilly fall evening.

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Bread Pudding from Great Harvest Bread Company!

GHBC

I know these posts have gotten a little bit gif-heavy. What can I say, I have a problem. Right now my process of writing is 30% bread pudding-based and 70% finding a gif I want to incorporate.

I was exploring a local Farmers’ Market the other day, enjoying live music and looking at the various fruits and vegetables. And when I say vegetables, I definitely mean the baked goods and homemade ice cream.

I hadn’t eaten lunch and wandered over to the Great Harvest Bread Company booth to see what kind of treats they were selling, hoping to pick up a quick bread or maybe a whole wheat loaf.

SPOILER ALERT!

They were selling bread pudding, and it looked really good.

For those that aren’t aware of Great Harvest, it’s a bakery café chain located around the country, similar to Panera, but a bit more directly focused on bread and baked goods. I’ve had their bread from the store only a couple times, but they have a very heavy presence at Virginia farmers’ markets. I’m never sure whether to buy goods from them, because I know they’re in a franchise model where each store is independent, but it still seems kind of like going to a cultural fair and purchasing food from the Taco Bell booth.

But bread pudding?  Yeah, I’ll buy that from just about anyone.*

The bread pudding was firmer than usual, almost like I was eating a bread-pudding-flavored brownie. My understanding is that it is made from leftover sweet breads, with a strong presence from their cinnamon chip bread. The flavor was mildly sweet, with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in with vanilla and a bit of apple. Because several different breads were mixed in, each bit was slightly different from the last, which I really enjoyed.

The bread was extremely concentrated and not overly moist, providing a slightly spongy but pleasant texture – something you can really bite into, probably due to the “on-the-go” nature of farmers’ markets. It had a lovely vanilla frosting laced over the top, which provided an added bit of sweetness.

Frosting. Oh my god frosting.

Overall, this was a great little treat. Although not something I would necessarily call bread pudding in its strictest sense, it certainly seems like a great way for GHBC to use up their leftover bread.

*NOT YOU, SAFEWAY. NEVER AGAIN.

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Taste new_stars - Copy (4)
Texture new_stars - Copy (3)
Presentation new_stars - Copy (4)
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Here’s a new thing!

GIF of the Week**

Arguably the greatest Nick Miller GIF of all time

** Not provided every week

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Apple Cider Donut Bread Pudding (Homemade!)

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Name: Apple Cider Donut Bread Pudding
Beer Pairing: Anything you darn well want! I recommend a pumpkin beer :)

I recently joined Costco, which was a terrible idea. REALLY terrible. And REALLY great. I immediately bought almost $80 worth of pointless bulk products, only narrowly escaping the $500 glorified blender. While eyeing the largest bag of popcorn I’ve ever seen for less than $4.00, I caught a glimpse of what I considered in the moment to be the best thing in the world – a bulk package of glazed, delicious Apple Cider Donut Holes made by Maple Donuts. At which point, I (naturally) squealed and ran over, throwing the donut box into my cart without a care in the world. Because, come on, they’re seasonal, they’re donuts, and they were in front of me. I’m kind of obsessed with donuts. The Dunkin’ variety in particular, but I wouldn’t turn down a Krispy Kreme if it was offered.

me with donuts circa… 1997?

Note – I’m going to use the spelling “donut” and not “doughnut” exclusively in this post, because that is how Maple Donuts spells the name of their product.

After Sean and I devoured about half the donut holes in a span of 2 days, I started the hoard all the remaining donut holes for my plan to make donut bread pudding, which I’ve been wanting to try FOREVER. (I would like to add that it is no easy task to hoard junk food when Sean is around. Or, for that matter, when I’m around.)

Using the internet as a guide, I primarily followed other donut/doughnut bread pudding recipes with a few tweaks – the recipe is shown below. (If you don’t have access to these specific donuts, any kind of cake-y donuts will do, or you may use this great apple cider donuts recipe to make your own!)

Mmmmm…. fresh apple cider donuts

I started by assigning the task of quartering the donut holes to Sean, which he took way too literally. While he carefully quartered each donut one by one, I threw together a mixture of rum (just a few tablespoons, optional), heavy cream, skim milk, eggs, a bit of applesauce, sugar, and cinnamon for a custard. I poured the custard over the donuts until saturation in a standard bread pan:

Ingredients

  • ~6 cups day-old doughnuts, cut into pieces (best if they are the cake-y variety)
  • 4 large eggs (I used 3 eggs and 1/2 cups applesauce)
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup skim or 2% milk
  • cup heavy whipping cream

Directions
Cut donuts into pieces and put into greased loaf pan (~9 in x 5in x 5in). Whisk the eggs, rum, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla until combined, and then add in the milk and whipping cream until combined. Pour over the donuts until saturated, using your judgment to determine how “wet” the bread pudding should be based on preference. (After my experience, I would recommend stopping as soon as everything is covered and no longer.)  Bake for between 45-55 minutes at 350 degrees. Great served warm!

Steps1-4

Various baking stages

I nervously baked it for about an hour at 350 degrees, trying to get a crispy top. There was too much liquid in the middle and bottom, so those parts baked much slower than expected. I would definitely use less of the liquid components if making this again, and have noted that in the recipe listed above.

Anyways, once out of the oven and cooling, I whipped together a simple glaze from warm water, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and threw it over top, and that’s about it! We ate it warm with just some whipped cream, as I thought it would be a bit too sweet for ice cream.

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Finished product

Thoughts – using too much liquid was definitely a primary concern. I don’t like a “soggy” bread pudding, and had to bake for much longer than expected in order to get the inner parts cooked. Even then, I got a good crisp on the outside but the inside remained fairly saturated. I wouldn’t call it soggy, but I wouldn’t likely use 3/4 the liquid components if I make it again. Noted this in the recipe directions.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the first episode of Friends, enjoy this gif and your donut bread pudding!

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Seasonal Bread Pudding (Le Mediterranean Bistro)

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Location: Le Mediterranean Bistro, Fairfax, VA
Name: Seasonal Bread Pudding
Beer Pairing: Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard Ale (Stone Brewing Co.)

What could be better than a lovely date night at an amazing restaurant on a Friday night? Not much, if you ask me. Especially if the restaurant in question is Le Mediterranean Bistro in Oldtown Fairfax, and that restaurant happens to have bread pudding on the menu! I swear, I did not plan this. Sean almost had to drag me there kicking and screaming because, in my view, spending over $20 on a meal is crazy town.*

It turned out to be well worth the cost, as our dinner was amazingly well prepared with a variety of Moroccan spices, and the ambiance of the small restaurant was warm and personal. After impressive quality of the salmon I had for dinner, I definitely had to try the bread pudding. And folks, I really cannot say enough about this bread pudding. Easily my favorite of any restaurant bread puddings, it surpassed even Matchbox in terms of rank. It was honestly one of the most well executed desserts, not just including bread pudding, that I’ve had.

Although the bread pudding at Le Mediterranean Bistro appears to change based on the season, the version we had was incredibly traditional (i.e. no fruit custard or strange flavors). Served warm with fresh whipped cream, the bread pudding was smooth as butter and had the undeniably best texture I’ve experienced so far. Perhaps due to the brioche base, the pudding was airy and light, with just a bit of give to the fork before gently bouncing back. It wasn’t overly soggy or under baked, but rather the perfect balance of moisture and crustiness.

The flavor was equally exquisite, quite buttery and rich despite the light texture. It had notes of cinnamon and nutmeg among several other flavors, although nothing overwhelming, and the pudding was not overly sweet.  The added touch of whipped cream and a light caramel sauce was all that was needed to compliment the flavors perfectly. It just made me so happy that I could barely function. A truly wonderful dish!

I would highly recommend trying out this restaurant if you are in the Northern Virginia/DC area, as the whole experience was positive. I would love to try a few of their other seasonal bread puddings out of pure curiosity, as I’ve seen reviews of a strawberry bread pudding that sounds interesting. Hoping for a pumpkin bread pudding in fall, which would be great!

* For maximum enjoyment of this post, read while listening to “Butterfly” by Crazy Town

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Taste 5 stars
Texture 5 stars
Presentation 4.5 stars
Overall Score 5 stars

ERMAHGARD 5 STARS!

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Beer Review by Sean

Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard Ale (Stone Brewing Co.)

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Douchey flavor wheel from Sean’s beer journal

Emily and I visited my sister in New York City a few weeks ago, and she took us to a few of her favorite places on the Upper East Side, one of which was Bondurants, which is a bourbon bar. When I got there, I noticed that in addition to bourbon they appeared to have a good tap list, which was very heavy on offerings from Stone Brewery. Beers from Stone Brewery (like many of the other breweries from California), are extremely hop-forward, and can be very off-putting for those who don’t like hops (Emily says, “like me!”) Stone Brewery is most famous for their Arrogant Bastard Ale, which from past experiences is very arrogant. By that I mean extremely bitter, not much malt, and relatively high alcohol. One level above Arrogant Bastard is Oak Arrogant Bastard, which was aged in oak barrels. Finally, we can discuss what I drank, which was the Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard Ale.

arrogant_bastard_ale_bottle_and_glass_sticker__79225

I am generally a fan of bourbon barrel aged beers. However, most of my experiences are with stouts. Additionally, as noted in my tasting journal, I had a very stuffy nose and had a difficult time enjoying this beer. The lighting in the bar was lacking, so it was difficult to discern the true color of the ale. From what I could tell, it appeared to be a rich mahogany. There is a light head that dissipated quickly, but lacing covered the glass as I drank. My first note after tasting was, “This is [expletive] bitter!!” In my opinion it was thin and one-dimentional, with a weak mouthfeel. I feel like this beer would be better with a stronger malt backbone, or some sweetness to balance out the hops. I didn’t pick up on any bourbon notes, which was disappointing given my appreciation of bourbon-aged beers in general. I gave this beer 3 stars out of 5, but I might have to revisit it in the future without a stuffy nose.

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White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce (Homemade!)

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Location: Homemade!
Name: White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce
Beer Pairing: Raftman by Unibroue

Sooo… I’m running super far behind on this blarg.  Which really doesn’t make sense, because it’s not like I’m overwhelmed with stuff to do otherwise. Unless you count hours of browsing Reddit and attending random events like a Lego Convention. Or hours of drinking (nursing a single) beer and performing surprisingly poorly at Thursday night trivia. Anyways, someday I will post in a more timely manner*.**

This post is another awesome example of people hearing about my interest in bread pudding and deciding to bake bread pudding for me out of the goodness of their heart. As with my previous post, I’m guessing on the exact recipe used, but I believe this recipe for White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce from Epicurious (also listed all the way at the bottom) is very close to what the baker (Sean’s sister Megan) made. I’m also using her wonderful photo, because mine was.. um… terrible.

While I’m a fan of a traditional bread pudding, I also really love a modern take on the dish.  The combination of white and dark chocolate in this version provides a wonderful, creamy base for the bread and custard, and melts right into the mixture while baking.  The result is a moist pudding oozing with chocolate and just the right amount of crisp on the edges. The addition of the Irish cream sauce when serving right out of the oven provides the perfect lightness and contrasting flavor to the chocolate.

So, yeah, I’m obsessed with chocolate and could eat this stuff all day long. In conclusion, I had a huge chunk of leftover bread pudding the next day for dinner and do NOT regret it at all.

This will never happen
** DO THE STARS GO BEFORE OR AFTER THE PUNCTUATION HELPPPPPP I’m too lazy to google this

 

Beer Review by Sean

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Oooo beer

Unibroue is one of my favorite breweries that specializes in Belgium-styled ales, such as Raftman, which is a Belgium pale ale that I had never had before. This beer was poured out of a 750ml corked bottle, into the proper tulip glass for this style. There is some debate on whether you should pour the bottom of the yeast into the beer that you drink – I decided to pour the yeast into this one. I am not sure if that was a good decision.

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Douchey flavor wheel from Sean’s beer journal

When viewing the beer, it was very cloudy, with lots of visible carbonation. The color reminded me of light tanned leather and it had a strong, creamy head. It had an aroma of fruity esters, alcohol, and yeast. The alcohol smell caught me by surprise, because it is only listed at 5.5% ABV.  When I took my first sip, the high carbonation was the first thing that stuck me. Other than that, the beer seemed very bland. There was very little bitterness, not much malt, and it tasted very grassy. There was a faint banana flavor and, as Emily can attest to, I hate the taste of “gross fake banana.” Luckily, the banana flavors were not too strong (I even made a note that said ‘unoffensive’).

Overall, I was very disappointed by this beer. I hold Unibroue to a very high standard, and this just didn’t seem to reach it. It’s passable, and I would never say no to someone serving it, but I don’t think I would buy it again when there are so many other better offerings from this brewery.

Sean just really wanted this gif here

Recipe: White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons Irish cream liqueur
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons water

Bread pudding

  • 14 cups 3/4-inch cubes French bread with crust (about 12 ounces)
  • 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 ounces imported white chocolate, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Preparation

For sauce:
Bring cream, liqueur, sugar, and vanilla to boil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Mix cornstarch and 2 teaspoons water in small bowl to blend; whisk into cream mixture. Boil until sauce thickens, stirring constantly, about 3 minutes. Cool, then cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

For bread pudding:
Combine bread, chocolate, and white chocolate in large bowl; toss to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla in another large bowl to blend. Gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups cream and milk. Add cream mixture to bread mixture; stir to combine. Let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish with nonstick spray. Transfer bread mixture to prepared dish, spreading evenly. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup cream. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake pudding until edges are golden and custard is set in center, about 1 hour. Cool pudding slightly.

Drizzle bread pudding with sauce and serve warm.

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Homemade Apricot Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

buck-bread-pudding

 

Location: Homemade!
Name: Apricot Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Yum yum yummmmm!  I love when other people make food that I get to eat, requiring little to no work on my part.  Especially when the person who is making the food is my friend’s mother, who happens to be a very good baker.  In this case, she surprised a few friends with desserts made for those of us whose birthdays had recently passed, and mine was this tasty treat.*  I haven’t enjoyed a bread pudding with fruit since one of my first posts (one of my favorites from Gordon Biersch), and have been looking around for a dish like this for a while.

Although I am not sure of the exact recipe she used, I’d imagine it is very similar to this recipe from Epicurious, also listed below. One interesting detail about the dish is that the bread used as the base is croissant, which was a first for me. This allowed the texture to be very creamy and light, soaking up the custard but still retaining the airiness of the croissant. The crust was perfectly cooked, with just the slightest crunchiness and resistance.

In terms of taste, the flavor was light and tasted slightly of vanilla, but really brought out the eggs and original croissant flavor. The apricots added a slight tartness to the dish, and created a pleasant variety in the texture. This is definitely more of a summer bread pudding (if there exists such a thing), the perfect addition to a cookout or, say, a gathering of good friends on a nice June evening.

But the very best part?

CARAMEL SAUCE ALL DAY LONG

Mmmm caramel

The caramel sauce pulled it all together.  Definitely a 5-star dish in my opinion!

*The carrot cake and German chocolate cake were also extremely delicious

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Apricot Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Bon Appétit | January 2000
The Winchester Country Inn, Ashland, OR

Ingredients
1 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
1/4 cup water
5 cups whipping cream
6 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
8 croissants, cubed (about 1 pound)
1 cup dried apricots, diced

Caramel Sauce

 

Preparation
Simmer Grand Marnier and 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan 5 minutes. Cool mixture completely. Whisk Grand Marnier-water mixture, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg in large bowl to blend. Place croissant pieces in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish; add apricots and toss to combine. Pour custard over croissant-apricot mixture, pressing down gently with rubber spatula so that croissant and apricot pieces are evenly covered. Let stand 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil. Place dish in larger roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come 1 inch up sides of baking dish. Bake 1 hour.

Remove aluminum foil and continue baking until bread pudding is golden brown on top and firm to touch, about 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread pudding from oven and from water bath; cool slightly. Drizzle bread pudding with Caramel Sauce, if desired, and serve warm.

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Banana Bread Pudding (Diamond Market Bar and Grill, Pittsburgh, PA)

diamondmarketbreadpudding

Location: Diamond Market Bar & Grill (Pittsburgh, PA)
Name: Banana Bread Pudding
Beer Pairing: Blanche de Chambly – Unibroue

I was only in Pittsburgh for a short period of time, and wasn’t really paying attention to much except the fact that MY SISTER GOT MARRIED!!!  Also, there was a penguin. I don’t remember his name, but he was pretty chill.  HAHAA GET IT BECAUSE HE’S A PENGUIN.

The penguin eyes me suspiciously

The penguin eyes me suspiciously

However, I had to sneak in a quick bread pudding stop right before leaving this wonderful city.  Diamond Market was a casual restaurant located in the heart of Market Square, with a decent beer selection and relaxed ambiance.  After stuffing myself with delicious Pittsburgh food, I actually almost bowed out of the bread pudding.  Luckily, I had two others to share the dessert so between the three of us we convinced ourselves that it was a good idea.

Bread pudding is one of my favorite things.  Banana bread is one of my favorite things.  So, naturally, banana bread pudding is DEFINITELY one of my favorite things, especially if it is made with actual banana bread, which this was. The natural banana flavor hit me immediately upon first bite, along with cinnamon and brown sugar.  It was a wonderful taste, summery and light, but with enough body to remain a formidable dessert. The bourbon sauce was sugary and a bit tart, a perfect match to the sweetness of the pudding.

The texture was slightly spongy, but pleasantly soft and separated nicely with a fork.  If there was one flaw, it was that the top crust was slightly burnt and bitter, which could have easily been removed from the serving. Burnt crust aside, the portion was large and the whip cream was home-made. Overall, I enjoyed this bread pudding, almost as much as I enjoyed my time spent in Pittsburgh for a truly wonderful event.

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Presentation new_stars - Copy (5)
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Beer Review

IMG_1461-570x855We paired this bread pudding with Blanche de Chambly by Unibroue (draft, not bottled as the picture suggests).  Beer is good.  This beer was good. Gah, I need Sean to write these. Remind me to bother him about this later.

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Créme Caramel

eknisely:

Doughnut bread pudding? count me in!

Originally posted on Sweaterchef:

I finally tried this place a few days ago and was able to sample the different créme caramel flavors.  Since custards are one of my favorite desserts I was pretty excited!  Truly one of this past week’s highlights.

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It happened to be National Doughnut Day when I visited, but regardless I saw the doughnut bread pudding and my mind was made up.  It had been heated in the oven for 15 minutes and was served hot.  I thought it was a great idea and enjoyed every last bite!

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Not as Good as it Looks: Bread Pudding with Raisins (Safeway)

safeway-bread-pudding

 

Location: Safeway Grocery Stores (presumably available across the country?)
Name: Bread Pudding with Raisins
Beer Pairing: Leinenkugel’s Berry Weiss – Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company

Sometimes it is EXTREMELY trying to be the world’s premiere bread pudding reviewer.* One of the trials and tribulations of this job is never being able to pass up an opportunity to eat bread pudding. For instance, a normal person would see a single serving of bread pudding sitting on the bakery shelf at a Safeway, sold for $.99 and likely days old, and think, “Wow, that looks really unappetizing.”  But I do not have the luxury of being that person, because I MUST try it. I tried to convince myself that, hey, maybe it’s a diamond in the rough. It wasn’t.

In retrospect, I’m sure microwaving the bread pudding in order to eat it warm did not help the texture. However, I’m 100% sure that I didn’t RUIN it through the microwave process. I can only imagine that most other people won’t want it cold and don’t want to take the time to stick it in the oven. The texture was very spongy and lacked character, only broken up by a few raisins here and there.  The taste was very simple, with a bit of cinnamon and vanilla, but mostly just bread.  The only saving grace was the whipped cream that I added on the top, and even then, we didn’t finish the single serving that I purchased.

Overall, meh. I bet Wegmans has a better bread pudding.

* I have yet to meet another bread pudding reviewer, so I can only assume

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Taste new_stars - Copy (6)
Texture new_stars - Copy (6)
Presentation new_stars - Copy
Overall Score new_stars - Copy (6)

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Beer Tasting Notes

BerryWeissSean doesn’t want to write a beer review on Leinenkugel’s Berry Weiss (Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company), which I think is fair because it just barely qualifies as a beer. Mike’s Hard Lemonade has finally found its match in the “candy for adults” beer division. This beer is quite sweet and very bubbly, with an almost cough-syrupy berry taste that turns off a lot of people. It is basically pop but with the slightest bit of tartness and malt at the end. At 4.7% ABV, this beer’s not going to do much for you and should be only enjoyed on the porch during the summer or in a similar situation. I actually really enjoy this beer on a hot day and am not bothered by the taste in the least, although I do find other fruit beers a bit better overall, such as a good blueberry ale or the Hell Or High Watermelon Wheat Beer, a favorite of Sean’s. We felt it was an adequate pairing with the Safeway bread pudding because 1) both are cheap, and 2) there was a very limited selection of beer in my fridge at the time.

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