Friut can jazz up ordinary bread pudding

June Crozier Towers

If ordinary bread pudding is not enough, jazz it up with apples, coconut and pecans. A plain-Jane dessert suddenly becomes a star.
Top it with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream, and this bread pudding becomes a real crowd-pleaser. How nice that it takes just minutes to toss it together and only about 30 minutes to bake.
Add raisins for extra flavor.

Coconut Apple Bread Pudding
2 1/3 cups apple pie filling
2 cups soft 1-inch bread cubes
1 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Arrange apple pie filling in shallow buttered baking dish. Cover with some of the bread cubes and coconut. Combine brown sugar, salt and cinnamon; sprinkle some over bread in dish. Dot with butter. Repeat until all ingredients are used. Sprinkle pecans over top. Cover and bake in 350-degree oven for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Note: The new crustless white bread is perfect for this recipe. Day-old bread is always a good choice for bread pudding or French toast.

Use canned crushed pineapple in another version of this bread pudding.

Bread Pudding with Pineapple
1 cup crushed pineapple
2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 cups milk, scalded
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Drain pineapple and add enough water or other fruit juice to make 1/4 cup and add with pineapple to remaining ingredients, except sauce, and mix well. Pour into 1 1/2-quart baking dish and bake in 325-degree oven for about 45 minutes.
Lemon Hard Sauce: Cream 1/3 cup soft butter or margarine and 1 cup sifted powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind.
Vanilla Sauce: In a small saucepan, mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Stir in 1 cup boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a dash of salt. Serve warm.

Food vocabulary
Kumquat is the smallest of citrus fruits and grows on small evergreen shrubs. Kumquat flowers are white and aromatic. The fruit is oblong, about the size of a small plum and has a thick, orange-like rind. It is tart with somewhat dry flesh and small seeds. their shrubs are ornamental and the fruit is edible; it is usually eaten cooked whole in sugar syrup, candied or made into marmalade. The word kumquat comes from the Chinese, where this fruit was eaten thousands of years ago. To make candied kumquats, stem and wash 4 cups of fruit, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes; drain off water. Cut fruit almost in half and remove any seeds. In saucepan, combine 2 cups granulated sugar and 1 cup water; boil until sugar is dissolved. Drop kumquats into the boiling syrup. Turn heat down and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Cover and let stand overnight. Cook for 20 more minutes and lift the fruit from the syrup. Reserve syrup to use later; it will be very thick as it cools, so warm slightly in microwave to serve over ice cream or fruit. Place kumquats on waxed paper to cool. If desired, place half a pecan in each. Store in covered container.
June Crozier Towers is home economics director for Imperial Sugar Co. in Sugarland, Texas.