apple bread pudding 2

Apple Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

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Our family gatherings just got a whole bunch bigger. My youngest brother recently moved to the Cape along with his wife and four children. Our weekly family dinners were averaging about 10 to 12 people. Add six more and it’s quite a crowd. But somehow we have managed to pull off fabulous dinners two weekends in a row.

My mother suggested early on that all dinners by necessity should be pot lucks, with everybody contributing something. Our house is the biggest so we usually host. At first I was worried that our little rescue puppy Cooper would lose his mind over all those people invading his territory. He suffered from a pretty bad case of fear aggression in his first months with us. Even though he only weighs seven pounds, when he is frightened he is seven pounds of charging fury.

 

Coops 2
Best buds Sadie and Cooper love to rest in the sun

I spent about six months reading every dog training book I could find. About two months ago, he finally relaxed and realized our house is safe. But just to be sure, I warned my brother’s kids to leave him alone. Thankfully they are well-behaved children who listen well. Even so, I never leave him in the room alone with a child. It’s not safe for him or the kids.

Besides, it’s not like we don’t have plenty of other pets that are child friendly. Our other miniature dachshund, Sadie, loves children and has gone camping with my brother’s kids every year so she knows them. Our cat Chloe is so friendly that she hugs people. Even the chickens allow the kids to pick them up.

Gini and Molly
Our niece Gini May holding a very cooperative chicken named Molly.

Before everyone arrives, the Kitchen Genius builds a fire in our fire pit. There is plenty of seating down there and most gatherings begin with everyone catching up around the fire. After dinner, the guys tend to go back to the fire. Others sit at our dining room table and the young mothers tend to gather in the living room with their babies.

Our menu for our first gathering was simple. Shaw’s had chicken thighs on sale, buy one, get one free. We bought six packages and KG barbecued them over the fire. My mother brought potato salad and I made macaroni salad and baked beans. I sliced up a watermelon and KG put out jars of homemade pickles.

In true KG form, dessert was inspired by ingredients we had on hand. We had a loaf of homemade bread and a bag of apples in the refrigerator. Apple bread pudding was an obvious choice. I spruced up the homey dessert with some bourbon sauce and it became a recipe we will make again.

apple bread pudding 1

The trick to a good bread pudding is to make sure the bread really soaks up the milk and eggs. You need to let it rest for about a half an hour before baking it. The mixture of milk and eggs should be about three-quarters of the way up the side of the pan. Otherwise you have a dry and bready dessert rather than the tender custard you are seeking.

Apple Bread Pudding
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Servings
12-15
Servings
12-15
Apple Bread Pudding
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
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Servings
12-15
Servings
12-15
Ingredients
Apple Bread Pudding
  • 8 cups stale bread , cut into cubes
  • 4 Macintosh apples , peeled and diced (3 cups)
  • 10 eggs, , beaten
  • 5 cups whole organic milk
  • 3/4 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Bourbon Sauce
  • 2 cups organic heavy cream
  • 1/2 organic whole milk
  • 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup bourbon
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons organic salted butter
Servings:
Instructions
Apple Bread Pudding
  1. Place bread cubes in a deep dish 13 by 9 pan and toss with apples until well distributed. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over bread and apples and let rest for a half an hour. Press bread down into the egg mixture several times, including just before baking.
  2. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Since ovens vary, I often check it at about 50 minutes and then every five to ten minutes after that. Serve warm with bourbon sauce.
Bourbon Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, milk and sugar. Mix corn starch and bourbon together in a small bowl to make a slurry. When cream mixture is hot, add the bourbon slurry and whisk to combine. Bring sauce to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook for five minutes to burn off the alcohol. Remove saucepan from burner and whisk in salt and butter. Serve warm.
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Beach plums 3

Beach Plum Brandy

Most of the time, the Kitchen Genius and I are on the same cookbook page. One notable exception is beach plums. There aren’t many things I enjoy more than foraging in the dunes on my hands and knees for these little jewels. I’m willing to ignore scratches and poison ivy for the pleasure of filling my bucket. KG isn’t.

His allergy to poison ivy is part of it, but it goes deeper than that. He not only doesn’t want to go with me, he doesn’t want me to go at all. This became abundantly clear over the weekend.

On Saturday we had a list of things to do: harvest veggies at the garden, pick beach plums, buy mums and lettuce plants at Agway, grocery shop and then cook dinner for 12.  When he asked me what order I wanted to do things, I listed it exactly that way.

He informed me that beach plums were not a priority. I saw his point and we agreed that Agway, planting mums and lettuce in the garden and cooking for our dinner party might be ambitious enough for one day.

Sunday, I didn’t even tell him my plans. I simply put on some old jeans and a t-shirt, determined to go pick beach plums. KG caught me as I was putting my sneakers on.

“Beach plums?” he asked.

“Yep,” I replied. But I couldn’t help asking him why he was so resistant to me going.

“You pick too many every time,” he said. “It’s wasteful and it takes food away from the birds. We still have two bags of beach plums in the freezer from last year.”

To be honest, it made me a little grumpy that I forgot to use those last two bags. I was on a roll last year to prove him wrong, but I always forget about the small freezer in the basement. I vowed that this year would be different – and donated those two frozen bags to the birds.

Beach Plum 4
The view while picking beach plums is simply divine.

I set off by myself and was soon in plum heaven. It was a good crop this year and I picked happily for three hours, slowing down towards to end to stretch the time.

Beach Plum 1
The bushes were loaded with plums this year.

At some point, it occurred to me that KG must be getting nervous about how long I had been gone. After 25 years together, our mental telepathy is pretty well honed.

Sure enough, when I got back to my car with my second giant container of beach plums, there was a text on my cell phone that said, “Do I need to send a search party for you or call the beach plum police?”

Beach plums 2
My yield (much to KG’s dismay).

Back home, I got busy processing the bounty. I made beach plum brandy to give away at Christmas, beach plum liqueur for autumn martinis and beach plum jelly. After all of that, I still had only used half of the amount of beach plums I had picked. After poring through my copy of “Plum Crazy” by Elizabeth Post Mirel, I decided to make beach plum wine.

We had already decided to try our hand at wine making this year because KG finally grew a fabulous crop of Niagara grapes, which are wine grapes. I decided a red wine would be a fun experiment as well. Two batches of beach plum wine used up 20 cups of the fruit.

And still there were more. At that point, I decided to make beach plum shrug, which is similar to kombucha, which we both enjoy. Shrugs are refreshing beverages made from equal parts of fruit, sugar and vinegar.

The last four cups defeated me. I divided them among two freezer bags and hid them in the upstairs freezer so I won’t forget to use for other recipes like beach plum glazed duck and a marinade for a boneless leg of lamb.

Beach Plum Brandy
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Beach Plum Brandy
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Yum
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Ingredients
  • 1.75 liters brandy
  • 4 cups beach plums
  • 2 cups sugar
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Pour half of the brandy into a second 1.75 liter bottle (or quart canning jars).
  2. Place 2 cups of beach plums and 1 cup of sugar in each jar.
  3. Cap tightly and shake to mix.
  4. Store at room temperature for two weeks, shaking bottles once a day.
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