Walnut-Topped Bread Pudding with Pears and Apricots
Bread pudding is a super-simple dessert to make and everyone seems to love it. For this recipe we combined plump dried apricots, Bartlett pears, brandy and a crunchy cinnamon-walnut topping. We like it served plain, but it's also delicious topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
- 6-1/2 to 7 cups bread cubes (see notes)
- 3/4 cup dried apricots, roughly chopped (about 4 ounces)
- 2 medium pears, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F and generously grease an 11 x 7 x 2-inch baking dish.
- In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, chopped apricots, and pears. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Add the brandy, vanilla, apricot preserves, sugar and salt. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and mix well. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the custard mixture.
- While the bread soaks, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar, walnuts and remaining teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the walnuts are lightly toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Bring a kettle of water to a boil.
- Pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish and level with a spatula. Spread the nut mixture on top and place the entire dish inside a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Carefully pour boiling water into the outer baking dish, about halfway up the side of the smaller dish.
- Bake, uncovered for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Bread pudding is best made with day-old bread. For this recipe we used our own Buttermilk Bread, but other good choices would be French, Italian or Challah.