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Apricot Bread Pudding

1/2 cup sugar 
1 lemon peel, grated 
2 1/2 cups soft white bread (about 7 slices), crusts removed, in chunky pieces 
2 cups milk 
4 tablespoons butter, melted 
3/4 cup dried apricots, chopped 
3 eggs, separated 
2 whole eggs 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Butter a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the sugar and the lemon peel. Add the bread pieces, milk, butter, and apricots, blending well. Add the egg yolks, whole eggs, and baking powder and mix well. Beat the egg whites until they hold a stiff peak, then fold them into the mixture. Pour into the baking dish.

Place the baking dish in a pan of hot water and bake pudding until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, and serve.