My family and I enjoy watching British Police Dramas together and we recently finished Pie in the Sky starring Richard Griffiths. Richard Griffiths plays Henry Crabbe, a DI who’d like to retire and devote himself to his restaurant, Pie in the Sky, but is basically blackmailed into remaining a police officer by his boss. Poor DI Crabbe must attempt to devote his time to his restaurant while being the flunky and sometimes whipping boy for his rank-climbing boss. The mysteries are exciting, the relationships between the characters fun, and the food is amazing.
Well, some of the food. None of the characters are vegan so there are a few cringe-worthy meat shots I could have done without but there are several recipes featured on the show I want to make for myself. Parsnip chips and saffron potato mash will show up on my dinner table soon and, after one craving-provoking episode, I had to make bread pudding.
I used to make a vanilla bread pudding from a recipe I found in Saveur magazine. This recipe used heavy cream and a whole vanilla bean. I remember it being wonderfully rich but, of course, I no longer use heavy cream. I needed to come up with my own recipe and, as I had some apples to be use; I decided to try my hand at a vegan cinnamon-apple-raisin bread pudding.
My step-father loves bread pudding so he and my mother were willing to visit the store and bring me home an Italian baguette. I let it dry out a few days and was finally ready to make my pudding.
There was a bit of trial and error involved: I ended up doubling the milk and crossing my fingers the spices wouldn’t be too diluted. I chopped up my apples and tossed them with cinnamon and coconut sugar, whisked almond and cashew milk together with some apple pie spice, and broke my baguette into chunks. I covered my casserole dish with a layer of bread, covered it with milk and apples and raisins, then added more bread, apples, raisins, and milk. My bread should have been used before it was and was very dry. I wanted to let the bread have a very good soak and covered my pudding and put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Then, I let it sit on the counter for another 20 minutes to return to close to room temperature while I pre-heated the oven. The bread looked like it had absorbed enough liquid so I left the cover on and popped the pudding in the oven to bake for 1 hour. My pudding looked too wet when I pulled it out of the oven so back in it went, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.
I considered a topping but, as this was the first time I’d ever made it, I didn’t know how sweet it was and didn’t want to go overboard with sugar. I let the pudding cool and attempted to make a whipped coconut topping.
I’ve had the worst luck making my own whipped coconut topping. It’s supposed to be so easy: skim the coconut fat off a can of coconut milk, add sugar and vanilla, and whip. It’s not. It’s turned out fine only a few times. More often than not I end up with a vanilla flavored, slightly thicker than milk, topping. Such was this case.
No matter. I’d intended on a vanilla sauce all the time, I just hadn’t known it. With some sauce drizzled over the pudding and some chopped pecans sprinkled on the top, my family was ready to test my experiment.
The verdict? I can make this again any time I choose. The coconut sugar cooks into the milk and the pudding develops its own caramel taste as it cooks. I can’t say ‘caramel sauce’ as the pudding is too dry to be considered saucy but there’s definitely a hint of caramel in it. The pudding is not too sweet and I liked the texture: reminiscent of puddings I’ve made in the past but not too soft. This made six servings total: two for the three of us and it wasn’t enough. I need to get more bread chunks and make this again.
Want to try it for yourself?
Vegan Cinnamon Apple Raisin Bread Pudding
1 Italian style baguette, broken into chunks*
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
3 medium tart apples
1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
2 cups original cashew milk
2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 cup raisins, depending on taste
- Lightly grease a 4 quart baking dish and set aside.
- In a medium bowl or large mixing cup, whisk together the milk, apple pie spice, and vanilla. Set aside.
- Peel, core, and chop the apples. Put apples in a large bowl and thoroughly toss with the cinnamon and sugar.
- Place half the bread chunks in the baking dish. Cover with half the apple mixture and sprinkle with half the raisins. Add half the milk. Repeat.
- Cover the baking dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and let set at room temperature an additional 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place pudding, still covered, on center rack of oven and bake for 1 hour.
- Remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes.**
- Let cool and then spoon into bowls and serve with desired topping.
*I didn’t bother removing the crusts and the pudding softened just fine.
**Baking times will vary. The pudding will take at least an hour but the 15 additional minutes may not be necessary. I live at over 5,000 feet and find I have to bake things a little longer.