I’ve been referring to this as my “Clean Out The Fridge Bread Pudding” because that’s exactly how it happened: I was cleaning out the fridge.
Wasting food is something I’ve always tried to avoid, however I have been guilty of letting things go bad (especially produce) and then just tossing them in the trash. I have even referred to the produce drawers in my fridge as “the rotter.” Now that we are under quarantine and shelter in place orders, and and getting groceries is more difficult that it used to be, with supplies running low I’m trying harder than ever to achieve as little food waste as possible.
So, this is all in the back of my head as I pull from my refrigerator 2 partial loaves of leftover homemade bread that had become dry and crumbly, 3 wrinkly tired looking apples, and some buttermilk leftover from the scones I made on Easter Sunday. My inner voice told me surely I could make something with those.
Dried Out Bread
Making bread cubes or crumbs is a terrific way to use up leftover bread that is too dry to eat. If there is any mold on it, you should toss it in the trash, but if it’s just dry cut it into cubes, spread them out on a cookie sheet and allow to dry for 1-2 days. You can speed up the process by putting them in an oven set to the lowest temperature, but usually just letting them dry for a couple days is fine. I then put them in a freezer bag and toss them in the freezer to use later. You can also spray your cubed bread with olive oil, sprinkle on a little garlic powder and salt, and toast them in the oven to make croutons for your salad. Cubed bread is perfect for stuffing, and for either sweet or savory bread puddings. I decided to make a sweet bread pudding.
We were on an apple kick for awhile, but I think we got tired of eating them because these 3 lonely apples sat in our produce drawer for quite awhile. While they didn’t look yummy enough to eat on their own, I knew if I peeled them, cut out any bruises, and cooked them up with a little cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, lemon juice, and starch that they would taste delicious.
We don’t drink regular milk; the only milk we ever have around is almond milk, unless I’m cooking something in particular that needs regular milk, cream, or buttermilk. For the scones I made on Easter, I needed buttermilk so I purchased a small container of it. I knew for the bread pudding I would need about 2 cups of milk, but I only had one cup of buttermilk so I used a combination of that plus 1 cup of almond milk. Worked perfectly! The buttermilk provides a nice tang, and is great for keeping baked goods tender due to the acidity of it. You could also use 2 cups of whole milk or cream if that’s what you have on hand.
Apple Bread Pudding
3 apples, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon starch (corn or tapioca)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
4 cups dry cubed bread
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups of whole milk or heavy cream (I used a combination of 1 cup of buttermilk and 1 cup of almond milk)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Make the apple topping
Place the cubed apples in a saucepan and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, salt, and starch, and stir to coat. Pour the lemon juice and water over the apples, stir, and cook on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
Make the bread pudding
Spray a 9×13 pan or a casserole dish with nonstick spray and place the cubed bread in it. In a mixing bowl, beat 2 eggs, then whisk in the sugar. Next, whisk in the milk, followed by the cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour the liquid over the cubed bread, coating all of it. Spoon the cooked apple sauce over the top, cover the dish with foil, and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minute, removing the foil for the last 10 minutes. *If you use a smaller, deeper casserole dish you may need to increase baking time. This time is about right for a 9×13 glass dish.
Best enjoyed hot out of the oven with whipped cream or ice cream on top! Store leftovers in the refrigerator.