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Celebrate the autumn harvest with this tangy-sweet, smooth and creamy bread pudding.
3/4 cup (2 3/4 ounces) dried cranberries
1 cup (2 1/2 ounces) chopped dried apples
1/2 cup (5 ounces) boiled cider or cinnamon cider syrup
1/2 cup (4 ounces) water
4 cups (32 ounces) milk (whole, low-fat, or nonfat)
5 large eggs
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon grated orange rind or a few drops orange oil
5 cups (about 12 ounces) crouton-size bread cubes, fresh or stale
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2" x 11" or 9" x 9" pan, or a 2-quart baking dish.
Bring the cranberries, dried apples, boiled cider and water just to a boil in a microwave-safe bowl or sauce-pan. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.
Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and grated rind. Stir in the softened fruit and bread. Let rest for about 15 minutes. Note: You can prepare the pudding up to this point and refrigerate, covered, overnight; then bake the next day.
Pour the pudding into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until set and golden. Remove from the oven, and let the pudding rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with cinnamon whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. Yield: 10 servings.