You know you probably have too many odds and ends in your refrigerator and freezer when it starts getting difficult to find a place to put anything. Going through and using things to make, say, a nice soup, will free your freezer of some bulky stock, perhaps a bone or two, and your refrigerator of an assortment of vegetables, cheese ends, and dairy products. This is a good thing to do at any time of year, but none more so than late fall, when you look at the calendar and realize that holiday baking is just around the corner. You will need all the freezer space you can get, come November.
I made some chicken soup the other day, producing a satisfying amount of new freezer space. In the process of locating the multiple containers of stock, I found some brioche—quite a lot, actually. I had put it away a month or so ago so that I wouldn’t just eat it all, and then rather forgotten about it. In the frig I had three apples—three different kinds, orphans all. There were a few cups of cider left in a half-gallon bottle. I made this fruit pudding; bready, but not strictly speaking a bread pudding as we think of one, as there is no custard—no milk or eggs.
Brioche and Apple Pudding
Be sure to use tart cooking apples. Unlike with regular bread pudding, I think this is better cold. Serves 6-8.
¾ lb leftover brioche (you could use a rich challah)
3 tart apples
1 ½-1 ¾ cups apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
½ cup dried cherries or raisins
½ cup sugar
1 ½ T mixed cinnamon and cardamom, to taste
1 T butter
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Butter a deep baking dish, such as a 6 cup soufflé dish. Slice the brioche about 1/2” thick and toss the slices in a bowl with the lemon zest and dried fruit. Pour over the apple cider and press the brioche a bit with the back of wooden spoon; it should become fully moist, but not watery. Peel and chop the apples into medium dice, and toss in another bowl with the lemon juice. Mix the sugar with cinnamon and cardamom. Using a spoon, layer these mixtures a little at a time in the dish as follows: bread, apples, cinnamon-sugar—forming three or four layers of each. Dot with the butter. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool.
The cider makes this sweet, so it is nice to serve it with sour cream or plain unsweetened cream poured over.