We kept buying apples at the weekly farmers market. I’d put them in the vegetable crisper and forget to use them, then wonder why there was no room in there. My husband was hinting for apple pie but was also moaning about all the butter and sugar being consumed (by him) this time of year.
I don’t think this is terribly original – someone out there has probably done the same thing – but it’s what I came up with one day while driving and trying to think of some way to turn a few apples into a dessert without much butter or sugar. The name isn’t quite right; it’s a custard but is also a more-fruit-less-bread bread pudding.
I used some dollar-a-pound organic apples (forgotten what kind) and some seed bread from Costco, but any bread could be used. If it’s fresh, toast it to dry it out. 2% milk is what I had but any kind (including non-milks like soy or coconut) would work.
I used an 11-inch wide, 2-inch-deep-dish pie pan for this and measurements are based on that. YMMV.
APPLE CUSTARD DESSERT
- about 6 slices bread, dried out or toasted
- 3 large or 4 smallish apples, cut small
- 1 – 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup brown sugar or more, depending on how sweet you like desserts (can substitute real maple syrup, demarara or raw sugar, or regular granulated)
- sprinkle of salt
- 1 generous teaspoon spices (your choice – cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice)
- 3-1/2 cups milk
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup almonds
Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan. When they smell nutty and have a few little dark spots, remove from the pan. Let cool, chop roughly and set aside.
Tear half the bread into pieces and fit into the bottom of pie plate.
Melt the butter in wide frying pan and add the apples and salt. Cook the apples over medium-high heat, stirring now and then, until they soften a bit and release some juice, maybe 10 minutes.
Add the sugar and spices and keep cooking and stirring until the sugar and juices condense into a syrup. Turn the heat off. Scrape the apples and syrup over the bread in the pie plate. Let cool a few minutes.
Pour the milk into the same frying pan and scrape pan with a spatula to get the syrupy bits left behind. Beat the eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl. Scoop about 1/4 cup of the milk (which will have warmed up) into the eggs; immediately beat the milk into the eggs to temper them and keep them from scrambling.
Pour the milk-egg mixture over the apples. Tear up the remaining slices of bread and fit over the top, pushing the bread into the milk. Top with the chopped almonds.
Let this sit about 30 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the custard mixture, then bake at 375F until set, about 35 minutes. Use an instant-read thermometer; it should read 145F or above when placed in the center. There might be a tiny amount of milk visible on top; that’s OK. Remove from oven and let cool.
Serve hot, warm, or cold with caramel or butterscotch sauce, sharp Cheddar cheese, ice cream, sour cream, or heavy cream. This slices well when it’s cold. Store in refrigerator.