Mother Earth Living

Herbal Recipes for a Holiday Feast: Caramelized Apple and Pear Bread Pudding with Fresh Mint

Serve this delicious caramely bread budding for dessert this holiday season.
By David Daggett
December/January 1994
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Serves 8 to 10 

Bread pudding says “home”, and this one, enriched with caramel and lifted with the surprise of fresh mint, says “celebrate”. Don’t be daunted by all the steps; almost everything can be done ahead, with assembly early on the day of the feast. The caramel sauces will keep in the refrigerator almost indefinitely.


• 5 cups heavy cream
• 1 vanilla bean
• 5 large eggs
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
• 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
• Pinch of salt

1. Scald the cream with the vanilla bean.

2. Remove the bean, split it with a knife, and scrape the seeds into the cream, saving the rest of the bean for another use.

3. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, spices, and salt. Whisk in the cream and let the mixture cool.

Fruit Filling 

• 5 tart cooking apples such as Granny Smith
• 5 firm pears
• 5 tablespoons butter
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
• 1/4 cup brandy
• 1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Pare, core, and slice the apples and pears.

2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fruit, sugar, spices, and mint. Cook, stirring, until fruit is tender. Add the brandy and cook 1 minute, then add the cream and cook until the mixture is thick.

3. Remove the skillet from the heat and let cool.

Heavy Caramel Sauce 

• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup heavy cream

1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar until it is deep golden brown. Keep it warm while you heat the cream in a small saucepan.

2. Return the sugar to the heat and slowly add the cream, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Strain the mixture.

Light Caramel Sauce 

• 11/2 cups sugar
• 1 cup water

1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar until it is light golden brown. Keep it warm while you heat the water in a small saucepan. Return the sugar to the heat and slowly add the water, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Strain the mixture.

To assemble the pudding 

• 1 1/2–2 loaves hearty home-style or ­ brioche-type bread, sliced

• 1 cup heavy cream

1. Lightly butter a 9 1/2 by 11 1/2 three-inch baking dish or heavy skillet. One layer at a time, soak slices of bread in the custard until they are completely saturated and then place them in the dish. Cover with a layer of fruit mixture. Repeat layers, ending with a layer of bread. Pour the remaining custard over the pudding. Cover the baking dish and place it in a larger ovenproof dish.

2. Fill the outer dish with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the pudding dish.

3. Bake the pudding at 350 degrees about 1 hour. Five minutes before the pudding is done, uncover it, top with the heavy caramel sauce, and bake, uncovered, 5 minutes longer.

4. Remove the pudding from the oven and let it cool 20 minutes before serving.

5. Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Serve the pudding warm with the light caramel sauce and whipped cream.

David Daggett is executive chef at Fox Acres, a secluded golf and country club at Red Feather Lakes, high in the Colorado Rockies. He received his training at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. 

Click here for the original article, Herbal Recipes for a Holiday Feast.

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