Fall

Layered Naan Bread Pudding with Cardamom Caramel Sauce

August 15, 2019
Author Notes

One of my favorite local take-out spots is a little Indian cafe where the curries are succulent, the buttery rice is speckled with saffron, and the tandoor-blistered naan bread is pillowy, warm, and as big as a record album.

It's a rare occasion, but every once in awhile, there's leftover naan in my house. It didn't take me long to turn it into a rich, dense sweet treat -- one that's become my favorite weekend breakfasts to serve when guests or family are around.

I assemble it the night before, pop it in the oven nice and early -- and then we devour the warm, custard-soaked blankets of naan and fruit, all the while surrounded by wafts of cardamom and cinnamon.

The creaminess and caramel make it a rich, hearty breakfast that's a great candidate for fall or winter. It may not be your average bread pudding (its layers and firmness are rather unusual), but its depth of flavor and texture are so satisfying. And substitutions or additions are nearly endless: think dark chocolate chips, sultanas, dried cranberries, or even banana slices between the layers.

The steeping and slight pre-cooking of the custard locks in its spicy, creamy flavor while creating a thickness that ensures unity in texture and spice (no separated eggs or spices that fall to the bottom).

That and an easy caramel sauce (no thermometer needed!), and there's just the layering of the naan and fruit. And, I admit, some torturous waiting time. —ButterSugarFlowers

  • Prep time 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Serves 9 - 12
Ingredients
  • Layered Bread Pudding
  • 4 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup (4.3 ounces; 123 grams) brown sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 14 ounces naan bread (fresh or day old), from 2-4 naan, depending on size
  • 4.5 ounces (128 grams; about 2 cups) unsweetened dried apple rings (soft; not apple chips)
  • ½ cup (3.2 ounces; 40 grams) raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • finely grated zest of one orange
  • Caramel Sauce
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Place cardamom and cinnamon in a small to medium saucepan over low heat. Toast spices in pan, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes,  until fragrant. Remove from heat, whisk in the brown sugar, salt, cream, and milk. Return to medium heat, whisking regularly and watching closely for about 4-5 minutes, until mixture begins to boil and suddenly bubbles up the sides of the pan. At this moment, quickly remove from heat, then cover while proceeding with next steps.
  2. Generously butter a deep glass baking pan, 8 to 9” inch square; set pan aside. On a cutting board, liberally stab each naan with a paring knife (don’t miss the outer edges), on both sides, to create extra holes. Then cut each naan into 10-12 triangles like a pizza; set aside. Separate any stuck-together apple rings, and discard any hard pieces such as stems or cores. Cut any large rings into halves or thirds for bite-sized ease; set aside.
  3. Place a layer of naan triangles in the bottom of the buttered pan, fitting them together to make a single level of bread. (Tip: If your naan has a darker, more toasted side, it’s best to place this side UP for the bottom layer only, so that the toasted side does not get even more toasted by facing down against the bottom of the pan.) Top with an even layer of apple rings (using half the apple rings), then sprinkle evenly with half the raisins. Repeat with another layer of naan, apples and raisins, and then a final layer of naan. Set aside.
  4. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolks until blended and even; set nearby. Remove the lid from the pan of warm milk and give it a good stir. Gradually pour about 1 cup of the warm milk mixture into the eggs, and immediately whisk well, until smooth. Add the rest of the milk mixture and mix well. Add the orange zest and stir until evenly dispersed. Slowly pour all of the custard over the layered naan, pressing top down firmly to ensure it gets soaked. Cover with foil and place in fridge for 8 to 10 hours (ideally overnight).
  5. While the naan soaks, make the caramel sauce. (You can also do this while the pudding bakes, but doing it earlier will allow it to cool to the desired consistency.) In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cardamom and salt. Add the water and stir gently to combine. Place over medium heat and cook without stirring (you may gently swirl the pan once or twice, being careful not let mixture splash up the sides of the pan). Cook until the liquid is clear, bubbling vigorously, and not at all grainy. Increase heat and boil for 3-5 minutes, staying nearby, and remove from heat just when liquid becomes a deep amber color. (Watch closely; it can burn quickly.) With pan away from heat, slowly pour in the cream. It will bubble and sputter when added, and may initially form a solid caramel ball – but not to worry: this will cook away. Return to low-medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for about 3-5 minutes, until caramel has become frothy and thickened. (Tip: Caramel will appear thinner when hot. Check its thickness it by dripping a dot on a cool plate). Remove from heat and let cool.
  6. When ready to bake the soaked pudding, preheat oven to 350 F and heat some water. Keep the foil over the pudding pan and place it inside a larger casserole or cake pan. Fill larger pan with warm to hot water until it reaches halfway up the pan, then bake.
  7. The bake time ultimately takes an about an hour and 45 minutes. At the halfway mark, carefully pull back the foil and push down the top layer with a heatproof spoon to ensure continued soaking. Re-cover, rotate pan 180 degrees and continue baking. Pudding is done just when the custard in the center is no longer liquidy; if unsure, check the center with a paring knife, gently prying it open to look at the inner consistency. Remove from oven.
  8. Just when cool enough to handle, slice into 9-12 squares and serve warm, drizzled with caramel sauce. This bread pudding is best just after baking. But if not eating it all right away, store covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours, or covered in the fridge for up to 48 hours, being sure to reheat before serving.

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