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  • Recipe Redux: Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Bread Pudding with Pecan Streusal Topping

    Friday, November 21, 2014

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    So, this months’ Recipe Redux theme is to take a favorite food memory and make a healthier version of the recipe at the heart of it. Having had parents who both worked in the food industry, there was plenty of cooking going on in my house, particularly around the holidays. One of my most vivid and fond memories was watching my dad make bread pudding. I come from a pretty big blended family (8 siblings, countless nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles…), so holiday cooking took on a life of its own. Fortunately for my dad, who started out as a cook for the US Army, stationed in France during WWII, he knew how to cook for a crowd. I distinctly remember him using a restaurant-sized baking pan to make what my family called his “famous” bread pudding. He never measured a thing. He just tossed in handful after handful of torn up white bread, cracked open more eggs than I ever counted (two at a time, each with one hand, which always impressed me and caused more than a few egg mishaps when I tried it myself), poured whole milk into the pan, right from the gallon jug, and half and half for good measure. Sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins rounded out the list of his signature dessert. He’d mix it all together with his hands and toss it in the oven. Simple as that.

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    Here’s the thing. I never really appreciated his bread pudding until I was much older. I think this is mostly because it’s a grown-up dessert. It wasn’t until I met my husband Paul, who loves a good bread pudding, that I rediscovered the simple deliciousness of such a humble treat.

    One of the things I have especially learned to appreciate about bread pudding is how versatile it is, and how easy it is to make healthier without losing the sweet, custardy essence of  it. Over the years, I’ve made more versions than I can recall. Chocolate, pumpkin, berry, savory…and now a (slightly fancier than my dad’s) apple cranberry. And here’s the thing, no one has ever guessed that my recipes are healthier versions. You have no idea how happy this makes me! I love to prove to people that healthy food can (and should always be) delicious, satisfying, want-to-go-back-for-seconds, food.

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    For this version, I used gluten free white bread (GF challah would be even better, if you can find it). Feel free to use ‘real’ bread if you prefer (add an extra 2 cups or so of the cubes if you go this route, since it doesn’t require as much moisture as the GF bread). The custard is a combination of 2% milk, spices, coconut sugar (purported to be lower on the glycemic index and to retain many nutrients due to minimal processing), and eggs (whole and  a couple of whites). The apple cranberry filling is simple and lightly sweetened and it’s topped with a  crunchy pecan streusel. A quick white chocolate sour cream topping, and I’m pretty sure you have a yummy (and no one needs to know) healthy Thanksgiving dessert on your hands.

    I’d love to hear about what your favorite food memory is!

    Recipe Redux: Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Bread Pudding with Pecan Streusal Topping

    servings: about 6 | time: about 50 minutes

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    2 cups 2% milk (make it dairy free by using unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

    3 large eggs

    2 large egg whites

    1 tsp. cinnamon

    1/4 tsp. nutmeg

    1/4 tsp. cardamom

    1/4 tsp. kosher salt

    2/3 cup coconut sugar

    8 slices gluten free bread, cubed (about 7 cups) (use a white bread–my preference is Udi’s basic white sandwich bread)

    2 medium Gala, Fugi or other firm, sweet apples

    1 cup fresh cranberries

    1/3 cup coconut sugar

    1/2 cup chopped pecans

    1/4 cup coconut sugar

    2 TBSP. butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, melted

    pinch salt

    1/2 cup white chocolate chips

    1/4 cup 1% milk

    1/3 cup low or reduced fat sour cream

    2 tsp. grand Marnier (optional)


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 4.5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray, set aside.

    1. Combine the almond milk, eggs, egg whites, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, salt and 2/3 cup coconut sugar in a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the cubed bread and set aside while you make the apple cranberry filling (stirring frequently)

    2. Peel and core the apples and chop into 1/4 inch pieces. Place in a bowl and add the cranberries and 1/3 cup coconut sugar. Stir to combine. Set aside while you make the streusel

    3. In a bowl, combine the chopped pecans, 1/4 cup coconut sugar and 2 TBSP. melted butter or margarine. Toss well to combine

    4. Assemble the bread pudding: give the custard and bread mixture a good stir. Pour 1/2 into the pan. Layer the apple cranberry filling and pour the remaining bread custard over the filling. Top with the pecan streusal. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the bread pudding on the baking sheet. Cover the bread loosely with foil and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes until the pudding is set but still moist (remove the foil covering for the last 5 minutes). Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving (best served warm)

    5. Just before serving, make the white chocolate topping: Melt with white chocolate with the 1% milk over low heat. Once smooth, remove from heat and whisk in the sour cream and Gran Marnier, continuing to whisk until very smooth. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons over each serving

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    3 responses to “Recipe Redux: Gluten Free Apple Cranberry Bread Pudding with Pecan Streusal Topping”

    1. rachel says:

      yum! this looks amazing!

    2. Thank you for sharing. i love to use organic coconut sugar. It is more healthier than white sugar I can’t wait to try this. i will definitely try this recipe.

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