Spiced Apple Bread Pudding

12 November

1½ pounds apples
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground mace or freshly grated nutmeg
3 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 cups 1-inch pieces stale bread without the crust
1/3 cup golden raisins
½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. 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.
3. Cover the bottom of a 30-quart round casserole dish (or similar size pot) with 2 cups of bread. Pour about ½ of the cider mixture over them. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the raisins and cover with about 1/3 of the apples. Repeat with another layer of 2 cups of bread, ½ 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.
4. Bake for 30 minutes. Use a 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.
5. Scoop out the bread pudding into individual serving dishes. Sprinkle each portion with some walnuts and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Serves 8