Bread Pudding, Vanilla-Apple, with Caramel Whiskey Sauce

Summary: What's not to love about a great bread pudding? It's comforting, delicious, decadent and homey, all at the same time. Topped with a caramel whiskey sauce...well, that's perfection. Both the bread pudding and sauce reheat well, so feel free to make them up to a day in advance.
This recipe was chosen as a Community Pick on Food52.

Yield: 8-12 servings

For the bread pudding

  • 4 cups 2% milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons butter + a bit more for buttering the casserole dish
  • 3 cups apples, peeled if you like, chopped (use a nice tart one like Winesap)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1 cup unrefined, granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 baguette, preferably at least a day old, torn into chunks

For the caramel whiskey sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1½ tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey
  • 1 pinch kosher salt


Preheat your oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

In a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat, pour the milk. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape its beans into the milk. After you've got the bean pod pretty well stripped, add both halves to the milk too. Heat gently until the milk measures about 140 degrees; remove from heat and let steep until you're ready to use it.

In a 10" skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat. When melted, reduce the heat to medium and add the apples and cinnamon, tossing to combine everything well. Cook a few minutes, until the apples have started to soften and have taken on a nice buttery glow. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, put the lightly beaten eggs and whisk them together with both sugars and the vanilla extract. Stir in the raisins and toss in the baguette chunks. Remove the vanilla bean pods from the warm milk, and reserve them for another use. Pour the warm vanilla milk over the bread mixture, stir everything gently to combine and let sit for about 10 minutes.

Pour the bread pudding mixture into the prepared casserole dish and slide into the oven. Bake one hour or until golden brown. If the top seems to be browning too early, cover with foil until the last ten minutes of cook time.

While it's cooking, make the caramel whiskey sauce.

In a small saucepan (1½ or 2 quart), put the sugar and water. Set over medium-high heat and swirl gently a few times, until the sugar starts to melt. At this point, just leave it alone, watching carefully, until it turns a deep amber color, 6-10 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat, and stir in the butter and cream; it will bubble up. Don't worry, just stir. If some of the caramel hardens, return the pot to the burner and stir until the caramel melts again. In either case, once the butter has melted and the cream is all incorporated, heat the caramel until it's warmed through and thickening. Pour into a glass vessel and stir in the vanilla, whiskey and kosher salt.

When the bread pudding is done, remove from the oven and let rest for about 10-15 minutes. Spoon into bowls and top with some caramel sauce.

Both the bread pudding and sauce reheat well, so feel free to make this in advance.