¾ pound tart apples (2 medium), such as Granny Smith, Empire or Cortland
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
½ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
1½ cups apple cider
1 tablespoon butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups 1-inch pieces stale bread without crust; (see Tips)
3 tablespoons golden raisins
½ cup walnuts, toasted (see Tips) and chopped
vanilla yogurt or light whipped cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Peel and thinly slice apples. Toss with brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Combine cider, butter and vanilla in another medium bowl.
Cover the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish or similar-size pot with 1-cup bread pieces. Pour about ½ cup of the cider mixture over them. Sprinkle with about one-third of the raisins and cover with about one-third of the apple slices. Repeat layering 2 more times.
Slowly ladle the remaining cider mixture over the top. Using a flat, wide spatula, press down to compact and submerge the top layer (it may not remain submerged). Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 30 minutes. Use the spatula again to press down the top and baste it with the liquid. Cover and bake for 30 minutes more. Baste the top layer again by pressing down on it with the spatula. Keep the cover off and continue baking until the top is golden, about 30 minutes more. Let rest on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
Scoop the bread pudding into individual serving dishes. Sprinkle each portion with some of the walnuts and top with a dollop of whipped cream (if using). Yield: 4 servings
Tip: To stale bread, store at room temperature in a paper bag for 2 to 5 days or bake sliced or cubed bread on a large baking sheet at 250°F until crisped and dry, 15 to 20 minutes. One 1-pound loaf (12 to 14 slices) yields 8 to 10 cups 1-inch pieces.
Tip: Toast nuts: Spread whole nuts on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F, stirring once and checking often, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes.
Nutrition Facts per 2/3 cup serving: 259 calories; 9g Total fat (2 g sat); 4g dietary fiber; 42g carbohydrates; 6g protein; 5g added sugars; 132mg sodium; 236mg potassium