This silky apple dessert recipe—a spiced apple bread pudding made with apple cider in place of the usual custard—gets a double hit of apple flavor from both the cider and plenty of sliced tart apples. Mace, the lacy red spice that coats the nutmeg fruit, adds a particularly lovely floral note, but you can substitute nutmeg if you don’t have any mace on hand.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Peel and thinly slice apples. Toss with brown sugar, cinnamon and mace (or nutmeg) in a medium bowl. Combine cider, butter and vanilla in another medium bowl.
- Cover the bottom of a 3-quart round casserole dish (or similar-size pot) with 2 cups bread pieces. Pour about 1/2 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 with another layer of 2 cups bread, 1/2 cup cider and half the remaining raisins and apple slices. For the third layer, arrange the rest of the bread, raisins and apples so that some of each is visible on the surface. 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).