Apple Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce

Apple bread pudding served warm and drizzled with salted caramel sauceWhen I got the call for a recipe that featured northwest apples, I got busy with some of the most popular ingredients around; sweet Honey Crisp apples and salted caramel sauce! Since this recipe will publish in the fall issue of Take Root magazine, I thought I'd offer up something that would be appropriate for one of those chilly fall days.

Traditional bread pudding was the base for this one but I made some changes, like adding apples and using cinnamon bread. My friends tell me that the bread pudding was good but the caramel sauce put it over the top. I'm glad to have friends who are such willing taste testers! Anyway, here goes, enjoy!

Time: 2.5 hours (1 hour to soak bread, and cooking time)
Level: Easy
Yield: Serves 12

3 large Honey Crisp apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons butter
12 slices (7 to 8 cups) cinnamon bread, crust removed and cubed
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons ginger liqueur (substitute with apple liqueur or juice, if desired)
1/2 cups brown sugar  PLUS  2 tablespoons
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Whisk eggs, cream, liqueur, 1/2 cup brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl. Add 
bread cubes and walnuts, then press to submerge. Refrigerate and let soak at least 1 hour.
Cinnamon bread cubed for Apple Bread Pudding
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 and make sure the rack is positioned in the middle.
Bread and custard imgredients in bowl. Let it set, refrigerate for 1 hour.Butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. This pudding bakes in a water bath so it stays moist. Therefore, you will need  a larger baking dish with enough room to accommodate the loaf pan and 3/4 inch of water. Do not add water yet. Set aside.

Sauteing apples before adding to the custard mixture.Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add apple slices and sauté until golden and partially softened (approximately 10 minutes). Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar and gently toss. Simmer until sugar dissolves into butter and becomes a light syrup. Remove from heat.
Remove bread pudding mixture from refrigerator and add apple slices. Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan. Spoon any remaining syrup from skillet on to the top. Place loaf pan into baking dish and add water to approximately 3/4 inch outside the loaf pan.
Bake bread pudding until apples are browned, and a tester inserted into center of pudding comes out clean. About 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest at room temperature.

Dust a plate with cinnamon and serve pudding with a generous drizzle of salted caramel sauce. Sprinkle kosher salt atop. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup half and half
1 tablespoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water and corn syrup. Heat on medium until sugar is dissolved. This step can go very quickly, so do not leave it unattended. When the mixture starts to boil and turn golden brown, add butter, salt and vanilla. Lower heat and continue to simmer until the mixture turns brown, or dark caramel colored.
Remove from heat and slowly add half and half while whisking. Once the sauce is smooth and the color is consistent, pour into a heat-proof measuring cup.
The sauce will thicken as it cools. Do not refrigerate until after the bread pudding is served.

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