Make Ahead

Rustic Vanilla Apple Bread Pudding with Caramel Whiskey Sauce

October 31, 2012
3 Ratings
  • Makes one 8.5 x 13" casserole, or the like
Author Notes

Well-executed bread pudding is such an exceptionally delicious and comforting dessert. I've always loved the combination of eggy custard, bread, cinnamon and sugar, all warmed together into a gooey mess of yum. And, as such, I've always found it distressing to come across bad bread pudding because really, how hard is it to keep it moist and avoid white chocolate?! ;)

My mom often made bread pudding topped with a whisky sauce which is basically just good on top of good. These are my takes on her old recipes: she never added apples and her whiskey sauce isn't caramelly like mine, but both are fragrant, dense yet light, moist and absolutely wonderful. —em-i-lis

Test Kitchen Notes

The best thing about this bread pudding is the texture. Even after a few days of leftovers, it’s incredibly moist and eggy with a great vanilla flavor. I even ate it for breakfast! The apples and raisins round it out and go wonderfully with the caramel whiskey sauce. I liked the way the whiskey toned down the sweetness of the caramel sauce. A heads up: this definitely on the sweet side, but the vanilla underscored the whole dish and its complexity and richness was wonderful. —LucyS

What You'll Need
  • For the bread pudding
  • 4 cups 2% milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus a bit more for buttering the casserole dish
  • 3 cups apples, peeled if you like, chopped (use a nice tart one like Winesap)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1 cup unrefined, granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 baguette, preferably at least a day old, torn into chunks
  • For the caramel whiskey sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  1. For the bread pudding
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a 2 quart saucepan set over medium heat, pour the milk. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape its beans into the milk. After you've got the bean pod pretty well stripped, add both halves to the milk too. Heat gently until the milk measures about 140°F; remove from heat and let steep until you're ready to use it.
  3. In a 10 inch skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. When melted, reduce the heat to medium and add the apples and cinnamon, tossing to combine everything well. Cook a few minutes, until the apples have started to soften and have taken on a nice buttery glow. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Put the lightly beaten eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk them together with both sugars and the vanilla extract. Stir in the raisins and toss in the baguette chunks. Stir in the apples and all juices from the skillet. Remove the vanilla bean pods from the warm milk, and reserve them for another use. Pour the warm vanilla milk over the bread mixture, stir everything gently to combine and let sit for about 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the prepared casserole dish and slide into the oven. Bake for one hour or until golden brown. If the top seems to be browning too early, cover with foil until the last ten minutes of cook time.
  1. For the caramel whiskey sauce
  2. In a small saucepan (1 1/2 or 2 quart), put the sugar and water. Set over medium-high heat and swirl gently a few times, until the sugar starts to melt. At this point, just leave it alone, watching carefully, until it turns a deep amber color, 6-10 minutes.
  3. Remove the pot from heat, and stir in the butter and cream; it will bubble up. Don't worry, just stir. If some of the caramel hardens, return the pot to the burner and stir until the caramel melts again. In either case, once the butter has melted and the cream is all incorporated, heat the caramel until it's warmed through and thickening. Pour into a glass vessel and stir in the vanilla, whiskey and kosher salt.
  4. When the bread pudding is done, remove from the oven and let rest for about 10-15 minutes. Spoon into bowls and top with some caramel sauce. Both the bread pudding and sauce reheat well, so feel free to make this in advance.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • EmilyC
  • em-i-lis
  • SCalabretta
  • cosmicbeekeeper

10 Reviews

SCalabretta March 4, 2014
I made this with a loaf of apricot/almond bread that didn't rise and added a splash of bourbon--it was wonderful!
em-i-lis March 4, 2014
Thanks so much for letting me know, SCalabretta! What a fun use of your bread. Glad you enjoyed the dish!
cosmicbeekeeper December 25, 2013
This went over really well. Thank you! It was really fun to make and nobody could stop eating it.
em-i-lis December 25, 2013
Oh fantastic, cosmicbeekeeper!!! I'm so happy y'all enjoyed it!! :)
Muse November 28, 2012
One of my room-mates adores apple anything...will have this waiting when he gets home tonight!
em-i-lis November 28, 2012
Oh, that's so great, Muse. I hope y'all enjoy it! You are a very nice roommate! :)
EmilyC November 7, 2012
This looks and sounds really lovely!
em-i-lis November 7, 2012
Thank you so much, Emily! I'm almost embarrassed to say that we (my husband and I) finished it in about 36 hours. Eek! :)
stephkrier November 1, 2012
I just put this on my thanksgiving list!!!!
em-i-lis November 1, 2012
oh yay!! i hope you love it. delicious for TG!! i, myself, have had way too much since making this yesterday. :)