4 1/2 cups (170g) 3/4″ bread cubes, from stale bread
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (283g) milk or light cream
1/4 cup (85g) boiled cider or apple juice concentrate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (106g) brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice
1/2 cup (85g) raisins or dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups (213g) diced unpeeled apple
3/4 cup (85g) chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons (28g) butter, melted
2 cups (454g) whole milk or half & half, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
1/2 to 3/4 cup (99g to 149g) sugar, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large (85g) egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Generously butter a 9″ square baking dish.
To make the pudding: Place the bread cubes in a large bowl. Beat together the eggs, milk or cream, boiled cider or apple juice concentrate and vanilla plus the brown sugar and spice; pour over the bread and stir.
Add the raisins or cranberries, apples, and nuts. Stir and transfer to the prepared pan. Drizzle the melted butter over the top.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until no liquid shows when you tilt the pan; the pudding will appear firm. Remove the pudding from the oven and serve warm, or refrigerate until ready to serve and reheat.
To make the crème anglaise: Pour 1 1/2 cups of the milk or half and half into a medium-sized saucepan with the vanilla bean, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining milk. Ladle half of the hot milk into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
Return the yolk mixture, to the saucepan, stirring to keep the sauce moving on the bottom of the pan. Return just barely to a simmer, checking the sauce frequently. DO NOT let it boil; if you do, yolks will curdle and the sauce will be lumpy. To test the sauce, pick up the spoon and run your finger through it. When it leaves a clean track, take the sauce off the heat.
Immediately pour the sauce through a strainer into a bowl set over a bowl of ice; the chilled bowl will help stop the cooking process. Scrape the pulp from inside the vanilla bean and add it to the strained sauce, if you like.
Once the sauce is cool, cover and refrigerate. Use within three days.