This is a simple bread pudding with quiet, seasonal flavors and a hint of tang from the cranberries. You could use it as the template for a basic vanilla pudding, with pears, or stone fruit. —BrooklynSupper
flavorful apples, in our case the heirloom variety American Golden Russet, rinsed
squeeze of lemon
loaf of white bread, stale or not, crusts removed, and sliced 3/4" thick
Cut the apples into 1/2 inch slices. Scatter in a large baking dish somewhere around 9 x 13". Drop bits of butter all over, scatter the cranberries, squeeze the lemon all over, and give the pan a few shakes. The American Golden Russet apples we used were quite sweet, so I did not use any sugar in the roasting. If your apples are tart, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the apples. Put into the oven and roast for 15 minutes until the apples are just bubbly. Let everything cool a bit, then pull the apples and cranberries out of the pan and set aside.
Meanwhile, cut the bread slices so that each half slice will stand about 4 inches high. Butter the slices and set aside. Use a ton of a butter or just a little, it's up to you.
In a large sauce pan heat the cream and milk. Slice the vanilla bean in half and add to the cream mixture. When it is just starting to bubble along the sides and steaming, cut off the heat and set aside for 10 minutes or so, scrape the sides of the vanilla bean with a spoon, and then remove it. In large bowl, whisk the eggs, yolk(s) and sugar together. Whisking constantly, pour the cream over the eggs, and add a good pinch of salt.
Add a little more butter to the dish the apples were cooked in and arrange the bread so it is overlapping and at an angle (see below). Tuck the bits of apples and cranberries throughout. Slowly pour the custard over the slices. You want the bread to be almost completely covered, so add a bit of milk if you need more liquid. At this point, if you have the time, I strongly suggest you set the dish in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to an hour--keep a close eye on it so you can add more liquid as it is absorbed.
Put the whole thing in the oven and bake at 350 degrees until the bread is golden and the custard has set a bit, roughly 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes and serve.