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Recipes: Three apple desserts with an English twist

Treats for fall include a bread pudding plus a couple that involve batter-topped apples, served right from the baking dish.

Apple Bread Pudding
Photographs by anthony tieuli; food styling by Sheila jarnes/Ennis inc.
Apple bread pudding,

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In this country pudding is assumed to be a smooth, spoonable, milk-based dessert with a custardy consistency. In England, however, it’s more of a general term that can refer to any sweet dessert as well as to some savory dishes. Here we have three fall apple “puddings’’ that hew to the English sensibility: a bread pudding plus a couple of others that involve batter-topped apples, served right from the baking dish. Eve’s Pudding is often accompanied by a sweet English-style custard sauce, but softly whipped cream or ice cream goes great with all three dishes.

APPLE BREAD PUDDING

Makes one 13-by-9-inch pudding; serves at least 8

For an adult twist, soak a cup or so of golden raisins in Calvados, applejack, or brandy until plump and add them to the mixture. The idea of adding grated apple comes from a Cook’s Illustrated apple cake recipe.

1         loaf challah (about 1 pound), cut into ¾-inch cubes

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1         cup granulated sugar

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1         tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1½    teaspoons ground cinnamon

4        cups half-and-half

4        large eggs plus 4 large egg yolks

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2        teaspoons vanilla extract

Salt

4        tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons of it melted, plus extra, softened for baking pan

3        pounds baking apples (about 6 medium), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks, plus 1 pound Granny Smith apples (about 2 medium), peeled, cored, and grated on the small holes of a box grater

3        tablespoons light brown sugar

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With the racks in the middle and lower-middle positions heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and bake, tossing occasionally, until toasted and light golden, about 30 minutes. Rotate pans front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. Leave the racks where they are and adjust the temp to 350. Set aside 2 cups of the bread cubes.

In a very large bowl stir the sugar and lemon zest until moist and fragrant. In a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons of the lemon sugar and ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon and reserve. To the large bowl add the half-and-half, whole eggs and yolks, vanilla, and ½ teaspoon salt and whisk until uniform. Add the larger quantity of bread cubes, stir to submerge, and set aside until thoroughly saturated, stirring and resubmerging bread cubes occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a very large skillet over high heat, heat the 2 tablespoons unmelted butter until the foaming subsides. Tilt the skillet so the batter covers the cooking surface, add the apple chunks, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt, stir to combine, and cook, tossing occasionally, until caramelized and softened (but not mushy), 10 to 12 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon, stir to mix, and set aside off heat to cool for at least 15 minutes. Add the sauteed apples and the grated Granny Smith apples to the bread-custard mixture and stir to distribute.

Generously grease a 13-by-9-inch or other 3-quart baking dish with the softened butter, add the bread-custard mixture, and gently spread it into an even layer. Scatter the reserved 2 cups bread cubes evenly over the top and gently push down to partially submerge. Brush the exposed surfaces of the dry bread cubes with the 2 tablespoons melted butter, sprinkle the reserved lemon-cinnamon sugar evenly over the entire surface, set the baking dish on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake on the middle rack until the top is browned, the custard set, and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.

ALMOND APPLE PUDDING

Makes one 8-by-8-inch pudding; serves 6

8        tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the baking pan, at room temperature

2        pounds baking apples (about 4 medium), peeled, cored, and cut into ½ inch chunks

3        tablespoons light brown sugar

¾      teaspoon ground cinnamon

Salt

¾      cup almond meal

½      cup all-purpose flour

1½    teaspoons baking powder

1/3       cup granulated sugar

2        large eggs, at room temperature

1         teaspoon vanilla extract

¼      teaspoon almond extract

With the rack in the middle position heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8-inch square or other 2-quart baking dish. In a large bowl toss the apples, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, cinnamon, and a tiny pinch of salt to coat. Spread the apples evenly in the prepared pan, and set aside.

In the now-empty bowl whisk the almond meal, flour, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt to combine; set aside. With a hand-held or standing mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and remaining brown sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; with a flexible spatula scrape down sides of bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts, beat well, and scrape down sides of the bowl again. Reduce mixer speed to low, add the almond meal mixture, beat until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl again; use the spatula to finish incorporating the almond meal.

Scrape the batter over the apples, spread it evenly, and bake until deeply browned, and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

TIP: FRESH IDEA

Using both sauteed and grated fresh apples in the bread pudding contributes a bit of flavor complexity while boosting the overall fruit presence.
Anthony Tieuli
Using both sauteed and grated fresh apples in the bread pudding contributes a bit of flavor complexity while boosting the overall fruit presence.

EVE’S PUDDING

Makes one 8-by-8-inch pudding; serves 6

12      tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted

           butter, plus extra for greasing the baking pan, at room temperature

2        tablespoons plus ¾ cup sugar, or more, to taste

2        teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Salt

2        pounds baking apples (about 4 medium), peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch chunks

1¼    cups all-purpose flour

2        teaspoons baking powder

3        large eggs at room temperature

1         teaspoon vanilla extract

With the rack in the middle position heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8-inch square or other 2-quart baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons sugar, the lemon zest, and a tiny pinch of salt until moist and fragrant. Add the apples and toss to coat. Adjust the seasoning with sugar if necessary. Spread the apples evenly in the prepared pan, and set aside.

In the now-empty bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt to combine; set aside. With a hand-held or standing mixer, cream the butter and ¾ cup sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; with a flexible spatula scrape down sides of bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla, beat well, and scrape down sides of the bowl. Adjust the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture, beat until just combined, scraping the sides of the bowl; use the spatula to fold the mixture to finish incorporating the flour mixture (do not overmix).

Scrape the batter over the apples, smooth the top, and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through (do not overbake). Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream, ice cream, or custard sauce, if desired.

Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.’’ Send comments to cooking@globe.com.