Apple Sticky Bun Bread Pudding

Serves 6

-Cooking spray
-5 cups cubed sticky buns
-1 tablespoon butter
-2 medium apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
-8 tablespoons sugar
-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-3/4 cup half and half
-1 1/4 cups low-fat (1%) milk
-2 large eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-Caramel sauce (optional for serving)
-Vanilla ice cream (optional for serving)

Lightly butter a 1-quart souffle dish (or alternately a 9-inch pie plate). Arrange half of sticky bun cubes in single layer in prepared dish. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add apples; sauté 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon; sauté until apples are golden, about 6 minutes. Arrange apples atop bread in dish. Top with remaining bread squares in single layer.

Bring milk to simmer in small saucepan. Whisk eggs and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot milk, then vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread and apple mixture. Let stand until milk mixture is almost absorbed, occasionally pressing down on bread with spatula to submerge, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place souffle dish or pie pan in a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of pie dish. Bake bread puddinguntil top is golden and custard is set, about 40-55 minutes. Remove from water. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serve with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream if desired.

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