Skip's Apple-Bread Pudding

A New Food Culture

In response to reader demand, we made a goal to publish 52 recipes to support the 52 Healthy Changes.  Because the recipes support the new food culture—the transformation from factory food-like stuff to natural foods—we call them breakthrough recipes.  The breakthrough recipes aren't new—they're just healthier versions of traditional dishes.  They maximize natural ingredients and minimize refined stuff, like sugar.  Here are the recipes by category:

  • Breakfast, 4
  • Drinks, 1 (Green Smoothie)
  • Breads, 4
  • Salads, 5
  • Dips, 2
  • Fish, 2
  • Meat, 3
  • Soups, stews, and legume dishes, 10 (The best value in dining.)
  • Vegetables, 9 (This is the critical issue—eating more vegetables.)
  • Grain, 1 (Skip’s Chicken Rice Pilaf)
  • Casseroles, 3
  • Desserts, 4 (We look for flavors that depend on natural ingredients rather than sugar.)
  • Miscellaneous, 4

Sometimes I’m surprised by how hard it is to improve a recipe, even though it’s based on a traditional food, so I fall behind.  I work hard on this but may need to borrow a few favorite recipes from readers to complete the year.  This week’s recipe goes with Healthy Change 27: Enjoy your candy a piece at a time; never bring a bag or box into the home. 

Bread Pudding

Las Brisas is a popular seaside restaurant in Laguna Beach and they serve a great buffet brunch.  I always finish with their bread pudding, a dish my Mom used to make, which includes a sweet sauce.  I like it but I have to admit it’s pretty sugary.  So my challenge here is a healthy bread pudding—meaning it doesn’t rely on sugar for flavor and has whole ingredients.

Bread pudding is a traditional recipe, so I looked in my Fanny Farmer 1896 Cook Book.  Sure enough Ms Farmer had a recipe and it used only 1/3 cup of sugar, though the Vanilla Sauce added ½ cup. 

To make a bread pudding from natural ingredients instead of refined sugar I included fruit—apples and raisins.  Apples and raisins also go with the spices common to bread puddings—vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  I added walnuts because I'm a Californian; if I lived in Georgia I'd use pecans.

Because bread pudding is custard, it’s sometimes cooked immersed in water to avoid over heating the eggs.  Fanny Farmer used a “slow” oven.  It seemed simpler to follow Ms. Farmer, so I set my oven at 275 F.

The result of my experiments was an easy-to-make healthy pudding. There’s no sugary sauce but I do like it with a little vanilla ice cream, Greek yogurt, cream, or whipped cream.  The beautiful wife liked the result—she prefers it with a dollop of Greek yogurt, seen below—but thought the pudding tasted more like an apple pie, so we called it Apple-Bread Pudding.

Skip’s Apple-Bread Pudding

Ingredients: (Feeds 8)

  • 3-4 slices of whole wheat bread (bread can be stale, but not moldy)
  • 2 apples, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 C chopped walnuts
  • 1 C raisins
  • 2 C milk
  • 2+4 T butter
  • 4-6 eggs (for more of a custard texture, increase the eggs)
  • Optional: ½ C brown sugar or turbinado
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 rounded tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp fresh nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt (or less if butter is salted)

Directions:  (Preparation: 30 minutes.  Baking time: 50-60 minutes.)

  1. Turn oven on to 275 F.  Warm milk in a saucepan just enough to melt butter.
  2. Peel apples, remove core, and thinly slice or chop.  In a warm frying pan, sauté apples in 2 T butter about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to soften and caramelize.
  3. While apples are cooking, break bread into crumbs and mix with raisins and nuts in a 2-qt. baking dish.  Stir sautéed apples into baking dish.
  4. Prepare custard mix by melting 3 T butter in warmed milk and beat in eggs, adding optional sugar, and spices. (Note: I forgot to add the sugar once and nobody noticed, though we all had a little Greek yogurt or ice cream with the pudding, so I made the sugar optional.)
  5. Pour custard mix over bread mixture in baking dish; press crumbs down as needed to moisten. 
  6. Bake in a warm oven (275 F), 50-60 minutes, until top layer is nicely done but not dry.

Comments:  Do you have a favorite dessert that isn’t too sweet and uses natural ingredients, like fruit?  Please share it.

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Reader Comments (12)

I love chocolate so one of my favorite treats lately are these German Chocolate Fudge Bites found at

3/4 cup pitted dates
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/16 tsp salt
2 T cocoa powder
2 T shredded coconut
1/3 to 1/2 cup raw pecans
Blend all ingredients together very well. (I recommend using a food processor.) Squish the dough together. (I transferred the dough to a plastic bag then smushed it together in the bag. It’s much less messy this way!) Roll into balls, cookie-cutter shapes, or bars.

I can't wait to try the bread pudding. It looks delicious.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Your recipe sounds so good!
I had to chuckle when I read to use stale bread but not moldy! I'm not a great cook but hopefully that's one mistake even I wouldn't make :)

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDee

Hi Dee

Don't chuckle too much. I for one am guilty of ignoring a little mold rather than throwing away so there are probably other guys doing this also. Some molds, if well developed, create mycotoxins which can be toxic to humans and even carcinogenic. So I'm trying to be more careful when saving stale bread.

July 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

Sounds very good! I will try this for sure! Thanks for all this great information.

July 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I have a question. I have been trying to add more fiber in our diet, and I think I have been doing quite well. However, it doesn't stick with me, within two hours or less I am STARVING. I am wondering if more protein mixed in would help. So, breakfast is great, lunch is usually a little early, snacks are ok if I plan ahead, but by dinner I am famished. Do you have any experience or suggestions?

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShantell


I'm not sure what you're doing for your meals and snacks, but adding fresh fruits and/or vegetables is a great way to add filling fiber to your diet. I've found that a single apple as a snack can keep me from feeling like I'm starving. I'll often pair that apple with a small handful of nuts to get some added protein and fat. Or, I'll whip up a green smoothie with some spinach, strawberry, banana, flaxseed meal and almonds. These kinds of "snacks" are very filling and help to keep me from feeling like I'm starving, and they provide important macronutrients that my body needs.

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentervalena

I adore bread pudding, and so does my mom, so I'll be bookmarking this recipe to try in the very near future. It doesn't hurt that I have some bread odds and ends in the freezer for just such an occasion.

I don't often comment, but always enjoy your posts. They're super informative and encouraging -- thank you for all of your time and effort!

July 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermeg

I'm excited to try your recipe. You asked for dessert recipes, so I'll share what I make when I want a cold, creamy treat but don't want something sugary. I blend a banana, some ice, some milk, a dollop of peanut butter, and sometimes 1/4 cup rolled oats. This really satisfies that late night milkshake/ice cream craving.

July 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterST

yummy, love the inclusion of walnut!

March 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Ham

Love this! I'm trying to go sugarless this year but would love to treat myself to a dessert now and then.

April 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

I am excited to have found your site. I really like bread pudding and the ingredients in your recipe are the types of food I like. I will try it soon. Love the recipe that I can have my grains, fruit, dairy, nuts, and eggs. Like your title too, Word of Wisdom Living. We do our best around here to live by the Word of Wisdom , but sometimes we get way off track. I look forward to trying many of your recipes, thanks for sharing.

June 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

As I read the Word of Wisdom in verse 14, tells about which grains to eat for people and animals. Verse 15, says to use sparingly. I see that it is referred back to eat meat sparingly. That doesn't make sense to me. I feel bad because someone much smarter, and spiritual than me added the reference.
My thoughts are to eat less meat and grains than the American diet. What are your thoughts.
thanks linda

March 12, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterLinda bowers

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