A fantastic apple dessert. It has a layer of soft cinnamon apples topped with sweet bread cubes and a vanilla custard mixture, baked until creamy, and served with gooey dulce de leche or caramel sauce. Comfort food at its best.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure policy.
Originally published in January 2013, this post has been updated with text and images to serve you better. The recipe remains the same because it's awesome!
Most countries and cultures have a way of using stale bread. Many involve a custard, whether a bread pudding or french toast.
This apple bread pudding recipe is no exception, and it's the perfect dessert for the holiday season when we usually have leftovers from brioche, challah bread, panettone, pandoro, Scandinavian pulla, etc.
It's highly recommended to serve it with a sauce, ideally caramel or dulce de leche, and enjoy a caramel apple bread pudding, which is the ultimate flavor combination for fall!
Two parts to this recipe
- Apples: are cooked in a skillet, so they caramelize a little and add more flavor to the dessert.
- Bread pudding: the bread layer is simple and traditional and uses an egg mixture, similar to a custard. The main difference is that it uses some sort of egg and/or sweet bread (today is Pandoro bread that I had leftover from the holidays, but brioche, challah, or Finnish Pulla also work).
Together, both layers are magic!
- Apples: Granny Smith apples, the green ones, are a must to balance out the richness and sweetness from the rest of the ingredients.
- Bread: use any sweet/eggy/buttery leftover bread you like, such as Pandoro (I had some leftover from the holidays), Challah, Brioche, or Pulla. They are softer and sweeter than the regular white bread used in old-fashioned bread pudding, so consider when adding sugar.
- Unsalted butter.
- Sugar: white granulated or light brown sugar, both work well.
- Milk and cream: the combination makes this dessert rich and creamy. I use full fat, but low-fat milk can be used. I don't recommend the same for the cream, though.
- Eggs: they are essential for the structure of this dessert. Otherwise, the liquid will never firm up. The extra yolk adds richness.
- Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract or pure vanilla paste when available, but a good vanilla essence (artificially flavored) also works.
- Cinnamon: any ground cinnamon you normally use works fine. I like Frontier Vietnamese cinnamon and Mc Cormick culinary cinnamon.
- Citrus juice and zest: I like adding some lemon or orange to cut the sweetness. But it's optional.
How to make this pudding
Making this dessert is easy and quick since the bread cubes don't need to soak a long time before baking, as it sometimes happens when using stale French bread.
The first layer consists of apple slices lightly cooked in butter, sugar, and cinnamon. This step adds more flavor and color, and it's worth it.
A few important comments about what bread to use and how to cut it.
- Types of bread to use: as mentioned before, we use egg-based bread, like Italian Pandoro bread, challah, Scandinavian pulla, or brioche bread, but favorites like cinnamon bread also work.
- Bread cubes: the bread slices are cubes because they're easier to soak, and some tips are exposed during baking, so they get crunchy. This adds great texture to the final dessert, which is very creamy. The result is way better than with slices.
- Bread slices: I did try this version, and the custard took way too long to bake fully, and it just didn't work. So I don't recommend slices. Cubes work much better.
The custard mixture
You only need to whisk or stir the custard, not beat it.
You want the eggs to be completely integrated but not incorporate extra air into the mixture so that it doesn't rise or puff too much during baking.
The top will bake to a golden brown, especially with an egg-based bread, and it will look like it's done when the specified time in the recipe is up.
But, and this is a big but... always make sure the inside is creamy but completely set, fully baked. You don't want it to be still liquid because it means that the eggs are not set. It will be soupy and not good at all.
- Organization: read the recipe first and ensure you have ingredients at the right temperatures, equipment needed, and enough workspace. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes is as accurate as it can be, but it might take you more or less time. Use a thermometer inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that the temperature is right. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Apples: we use medium slices, and they soften just enough. But if you want crunchier apples, cut them into thicker wedges (about 6 slices from each half apple), and if you like very cooked fruit, I suggest you dice them.
- Topping: cut bread into cubes rather than slices. You'll get crunchier parts because they get more exposure as the apple dessert bakes. And the dessert will bake more evenly.
- Flavorings: I love cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon because they go so well with lemon, but let your palate decide. Orange, apple pie spice mix, and even a dash of cardamom work.
- Add-ins: several ingredients can be added to the apple layer, such as raisins, walnuts, pecans, and cranberries. Use ¼ or ⅓ cup (total) of one or a mix.
- Serving it: this is the ultimate apple dessert to serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle. A delicious fall dessert! Before serving, I usually drizzle some dulce de leche sauce or caramel on top of the bread pudding in the baking dish.
Frequently asked questions
It depends on how you like it, as both ways are fine. I like it warm with dulce de leche or caramel sauce and sometimes with a scoop of ice cream. But plain apple bread pudding is fantastic.
The top will be golden, and the creamy inside will be firm. You can use a cake tester or toothpick; it's done when it comes out clean. You can also lift the top layer in the center with a fork and see if it's still liquid or not.
Yes, it can. Make sure it's covered. The bread in this one is very soft, even if it's stale, so there's no need to soak it for a long period. But you can do it if you want to bake it in the morning, for example. The texture will be more uniform as the liquid will be absorbed more.
Yes, but in a good way. It's baked bread with liquid, so it does soften a lot. Make sure it's properly baked, so it's not mushy. There's a difference between creamy and soft versus soggy and mushy.
No, it's not recommended. There are eggs and also fruit, which tend to ferment. So refrigerate what you're not using after a few hours, well covered.
Related recipes you might like:
Let me know in the comments below if you made this recipe and loved it and if you had issues so we can troubleshoot together. I love to hear what you think, always. Thanks for being here. It's much appreciated.
You might also consider subscribing to our FREE email series to Boost your Home Baking Skills! And our regular newsletter.
And let's connect via Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Caramel Apple Bread Pudding
A delicious dessert of cinnamon apples topped with bread cubes and a vanilla custard, baked until creamy and served with caramel.
Estimated nutrition is given for the bread pudding without the sauce.
- Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup white granulated or light brown sugar
- 1.5 pounds Granny Smith apples ((about 4 or 5)
- Optional: ⅓ cup raisins/dried cranberries/chopped walnuts or pecans can be added to the apple layer
- 1 pound Pandoro bread, Finnish pulla, brioche, or challah, homemade or store-bought
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream (double cream also works)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Caramel sauce or homemade dulce de leche, for serving (see Notes below for other links)
- Have ready a rectangular 11x7-inch ovenproof dish in which you will serve the pudding. I like a ceramic dish, but glass also works. Remember the bread pudding will be served directly from the baking dish, so choose one that you like to put on the table.
For the apples:
- Peel, core, and cut the apples in wedges.
- Choose one of the two options below:
Raw apples: mix the wedges in a bowl with sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Heavily butter the dish (use the amount in the ingredients) and arrange the apples.
Partially cooked apples: melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and sprinkle sugar on top. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula and cook for about 3 minutes, until they begin to caramelize here and there. Do not let them turn too dark or too soft. Remove from heat, add the cinnamon and lemon juice and arrange them in the prepared dish.
- Trim the pandoro bread and cut it into big chunks or cubes.
- Arrange the bread on top of the apples. It will be uneven.
- Mix milk, cream, eggs, and egg yolk in a medium bowl or pitcher. Do not beat.
- Pour this mixture slowly over bread, gently pressing down to absorb the liquid.
- Let it soak at room temperature for about 15 minutes, pressing a few times so that the bread absorbs as much of the milk mixture as possible before going into the oven.
- Preheat oven to 350ºF / 180°C.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the crust is golden. Check the inside by lifting the bread with a fork. You don't want liquid, but it's fine if not completely set.
- Let rest for a few minutes on a wire rack.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with caramel sauce or homemade dulce de leche. If you want a showstopper dessert, first add a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and pour the sauce over it.
- Organization: always read the recipe first and make sure you have all the ingredients, at the right temperatures, and also the rest of the equipment and space to make it. This will make the process so much easier!
- Baking time: keep in mind that all ovens and pans are different, even if they look the same or very similar. The baking time in my recipes are as accurate as I they can be, but it might take you more or less time. You can use a thermometer that is placed inside the oven (like the OXO oven thermometer) to check that your oven is the right temperature. I recommend you keep track of how your oven works and what tiny details you might need to adjust.
- Apples: if you want crunchier apples cut them in thicker wedges (about 6 slices from each half apple) and if you like very cooked fruit I suggest you dice them.
- Topping: you can cut bread cubes or slices. Both ways work, but the former tend to have crunchier parts because they get more exposure as the apple dessert bakes.
- Flavorings: I love cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon because they go so well with lemon, but let your palate decide. Orange, apple pie spice mix, even a dash of cardamom if you're familiar with it also work.
- Add-ins: there are several ingredients that can be added to the apple layer such as raisins, walnuts, pecans, cranberries. Use ¼ or ⅓ cup (total) of one of them or a mix.
- Serving it: this is the ultimate apple dessert to serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle on top. A delicious fall dessert! I usually drizzle some dulce de leche sauce or caramel on top of the bread pudding, directly in the baking dish before serving.
- Dulce de leche: I have the best dulce de leche recipe in this blog, but you can also buy it online. I like Dulce de Leche Cachafaz warmed before using it so it's more fluid. You can also buy a dulce de leche sauce like La Lechera.
- Caramel: you can buy online the topping like Ghirardelli caramel flavored sauce, or make your own following this salted caramel recipe or this homemade caramel recipe.
- Prep Time: 45 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: International
- Serving Size: ⅛
- Calories: 374
- Sugar: 19.7 g
- Sodium: 252.9 mg
- Fat: 16.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 47.8 g
- Protein: 9 g
- Cholesterol: 131.3 mg
Keywords: apple bread pudding
Adapted from an old Bon Appetit magazine.
Wow, I made this apple pudding and it disappeared sooo fast! My kids loved it so I’ll be making it again for sure. Do you think it will be good with raisins?
Paula Montenegro says
Absolutely Carola! I sometimes add raisins and walnuts. Happy baking!
Karen (Back Road Journal) says
Having a three hundred tree apple orchard, I'm always looking for new recipes...this is wonderful.
My god, this is brilliant and looks incredible! Love your photos! So sorry you guys are having to endure such horrid weather - come to California! I'm a huge Nancy Silverton fan, too. If forced to choose, I'd say my five fave cookbooks are: Deborah Madison's Local Flavors, Annie Somerville's Everyday Greens, David L's Perfect Scoop, Deb P's Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, and everything by Alice Medrich. 🙂
It's deep freeze winter where I live and I'm making this gorgeous bread pudding this weekend!
Laura Dembowski says
That looks heavenly! So comforting. I am dying for peaches, blackberries and cherries but it won't be long until they are in season again here. My favorite cookbook is the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. I am also hoping this year is a turning point for me. Hope the year is everything you want it to be.
Lizzy Do says
Oh, I love, love this wonderful dessert! I'm a huge fan of bread pudding and adding apples makes it even better!
Angie's Recipes says
This looks wickedly tempting!
Paula, what an absolutely delicious looking Caramelized Apple Bread Pudding - I do not think that I ever made a Bread Pudding but I have tasted some and I loved it - terrific caramelization on the apples. And I love the addition of some cream and fresh raspberries! P.S.: I have made that Finnish Pulla several times for guests since baking it fi rthe TwD group, and I agree with you, it is a terrific recipe and now I know what to do with the leftovers the next day! Thanks for the wonderful post that is just brimming with a lot of very useful information!
Have a great Wednesday!
Lyn @LovelyPantry says
Absolutely wonderful, Paul! I can't stop staring at it. I love apples made like this. As for the bread pudding? It is surely growing on me, especially with a beautiful recipe like this one.
This Bread Pudding looks fantastic!! It sounds like a perfect dessert for the cold winter we’re having here in NJ! So yummy looking!