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Honey Cake-Off: Day 5

Apples Honey Cake Bread Pudding With Butterscotch Sauce. (Bill Webster -- The Washington Post)

Whether or not you choose to make honey cake -- either for Rosh Hashanah, or because, after four days, you're curious about just how good/bad the previous Cake-Off recipes could be -- you might come across 9-by-5-ish loaves of it in the bakery department of your favorite grocery store. Why, a guest at your holiday buffet may present you with just such a loaf.

Recipe Included

In the spirit of the New Year, here's what you can do: Cut it into cubes, add a custard, some sauteed apples and bake it up like a bread pudding. Serve it warm, with a butterscotch sauce.

That's what Dallas cooking teacher Tina Wasserman suggested. She's another Friend of the Food section with a just-released cookbook, "Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora" (URJ Press).

I liked being able to combine apples and honey in a single dessert. I tried Wasserman's recipe using a standard, store-bought, sticky-on-the-outside and dry-on-the-inside loaf, because all that previous honey cake has been scarfed down by the testing panel and assorted newsroom chowhounds. The cake becomes much softer in texture than any bread you might use for a similar recipe yet not as sweet as you might think; for me, the recipe's better with the rum than without it. The honey flavor mellows considerably, so I'd say this rendition could be the answer for those who don't care for honey as a flavoring agent. I'd also throw in an extra quarter-pound of honey cake (if I had it), to firm up the pudding a bit. But that's just me.

It's much easier to make this type of pudding with dairy, so if you keep milk and meat separate at mealtime, be advised that it should be served with a meatless menu. Whatever you do, be sure to make the sauce. It's delicious.

And with that, the Cake-Off's done. Riveting stuff. (Well, I was entertained.) Never did find a person who was an ardent fan of honey cake.

It's your turn for input. First, scan these five recipes:

Day 1: Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

Day 2: Oregon's Kosher Maven's Honey Cake

Day 3: Nova Scotia Honey Orange Sponge Cake

Day 4: Majestic and Moist New Year's Honey Cake

Day 5: Apples and Honey Cake Bread Pudding With Butterscotch Sauce (below)

Now, let us know which one(s) you'd like to see included in our Recipe Finder database. Cast your vote in the comments area.

Apples and Honey Cake Bread Pudding With Butterscotch Sauce
12 servings

MAKE AHEAD: The bread pudding can be made a day in advance. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and reheat in a 325-degree oven until heated through. The butterscotch sauce yields 2 3/4 cups total. The sauce can be refrigerated up to 3 days in advance; reheat on LOW in the microwave.

(Bill Webster -- The Washington Post)

Adapted from Dallas cooking teacher Tina Wasserman.

For the sauce
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 or 2 tablespoons dark rum (optional)

For the bread pudding
About 1 pound leftover honey cake (may substitute one 9-by-5-inch store-bought loaf)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the baking dish
3 Jonagold, Fuji or Gala apples (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup half-and-half
3 cups whole or low-fat milk (preferably 2 percent)

For the sauce: Combine the sugar, syrup and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; stir until the butter has melted. When the mixture comes to a full boil, cook without stirring for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.

Combine the evaporated milk and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup, then add to the saucepan, stirring just till incorporated. Add the rum to taste, if desired, and mix well. Transfer to a heatproof container and let cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the bread pudding: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a little butter to lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Place the dish inside a larger roasting pan. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

Cut the honey cake into 3/4-inch cubes; arrange half the cubes in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish.

Peel, core and cut the apples into 1/8-inch slices, then cut the slices crosswise into 3 or 4 chunks each.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat for 15 seconds, then add the butter and let it melt. Add the apples and stir to coat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples give up some of their juices, then add the sugar and cinnamon, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples have softened and are beginning to brown. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the bottom layer of honey cake cubes, then arrange the remaining honey cake cubes to cover the layer of apples.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla extract, half-and-half and milk in a large bowl.

Strain the egg mixture through a fine-mesh strainer evenly over the layers in the baking dish, making sure the honey cake cubes are completely covered and/or soaked with the egg mixture. You may need to press down slightly on the top layer to make that happen.

Place on the middle oven rack, then use the just-boiled water to fill the roasting pan to a depth of 1 inch. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a sharp, thin knife inserted in the center of the pudding comes out clean. The pudding should look moist.

Serve warm, with a spoonful or two of the butterscotch sauce (cold or warmed) on the side.

-- Bonnie Benwick

By The Food Section  |  September 15, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Recipes  | Tags: Bonnie Benwick, Rosh Hashanah, honey cake, recipes  
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Oh wow, this bread pudding looks amazing. Unfortunately, I *do* separate milk and meat, so I don't know if I can use this for Friday night. But...I might be able to use it for Saturday or Sunday.

I would definitely vote for the bread pudding going into the database.

Posted by: marag | September 15, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I vote for two: The Oregon Kosher Maven Cake for those who want an edible, pretty cake that's still traditional, and Tina W's bread pudding for those who want something less traditional (and who might be stuck with some brick-like, store-bought honey cake from some clueless relatives or friends. Not mine, of course.)

Posted by: lechat17 | September 15, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

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