As a New England native no slice of apple pie is complete unless it is accompanied by a wedge of sharp Cheddar cheese. In my opinion, the sweet-savory pairing of the apples and cheese is a natural fit. In wanting to bring this flavor combination to my brunch table I decided to introduce the apples to a favorite bread pudding. After all, if apples and cheese are as good together as bread and cheese are, the combination of the three is a sure winner. And I was right.
The pudding is an adaptation of Paula Lambert’s Gouda Bread Pudding. It is neither too savory nor too sweet making it the perfect brunch dish. If you are short of time in the morning, you can prep the ingredients the night before and allow the bread to soak in the custard overnight. In the morning all you will need to do is assemble the pudding layers while the oven pre-heats. It doesn’t get much easier or faster than this. The pudding can be part of a larger meal but we like it accompanied by crispy fried bacon and a seasonal fruit salad.
APPLE-CHEDDAR BREAD PUDDING
- Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add the milk, creme fraiche or sour cream, and salt and whisk until well combined.
- Cut the baguette in half, then cut it into quarters and finally into 1-inch cubes. Add the bread to the egg mixture and toss to combine. Leave to soak up the liquid at least 10 minutes.
- Squeeze out any excess liquid and place the shredded apple in a small bowl. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and nutmeg and gently toss to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch to 10-inch casserole or souffle dish.
- Transfer 1/3 or the soaked bread to the casserole and sprinkle 1/4 of the cheese on top. Add 1/3 of the apple mixture. Repeat layering the bread, cheese, and apple until the casserole is filled. You should have 3 or 4 layers of bread and cheese.
- Pour any remaining egg mixture over the bread. Finish by sprinkling the remaining cheese in a thick layer on top.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the bread pudding has puffed up in the center and the top is crusty and brown. Serve hot.