This is kind of embarrassing. I made it all the way to October 25 (only 6 days until Halloween!) without posting a single pumpkin recipe. I’m not sure how I can call myself a true seasonal baker.
That’s not to say I haven’t been consuming pumpkin goods. I’ve managed to always get the pumpkin munchkins at morning events. I had my first pumpkin chai latte (or Chumpkin, as I’ve been told it’s called). I’ve had pumpkin pie on more than one occasion, and I don’t even particularly like the stuff.
So the fact that it’s taken me this long to bake with it is really unacceptable. I’m giving myself the excuse that every “pumpkin” in the above two paragraphs links to pumpkin recipes I’ve made in the past two years. You should check those out if you feel like I’ve somehow let you down in the pumpkin department this year.
Anyways, a pumpkin recipe was long overdue. Baking with my friend Erik was also long overdue. I think it was somewhere around the second week of school when we made plans to bake something, but, as tends to happen in law school, things always seemed to come up.
Fortunately, he had the idea of pumpkin bread pudding, and the persistence to actually make plans, which to me was the best of all worlds – I’d never made bread pudding before, and when someone has the recipe ready to go, it’s pretty hard to say no.
We used day-old challah as our bread, but any eggy loaf that you’ve let sit out for a bit will work.
First, slice the bread into thick slices and cut into quarters. Push the bread in overlapping layers into two loaf pans greased with butter and dusted with a tablespoon of sugar each.If you have a casserole dish that’s three inches deep, you can make it all in one pan – we were working with limited bakeware.
Over medium-high heat, heat milk and cream until just begins to boil and remove from heat. If, like me, you are afraid of scalding the milk, heat until bubbles seem to kind of be forming – that’s enough.At the same time, you should also put on a kettle of water to boil. You’ll need this for the water bath later on.
In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.Whisk in the eggs until beaten.Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla extract until well blended and smooth.While constantly whisking, pour in the hot milk and cream mixture slowly. This was a particularly helpful step to have a second set of hands for.Finally, pour the custard mixture (that’s what you just made) equally between the two loaf pans, pushing down the bread to make sure it absorbs as much of the liquid as possible. Place the loaf pans in a baking dish and pour in the boiling water from the kettle until it rises about halfway up the outsides of the pans. This creates a water bath for more constant heating and cooling, which apparently is pretty essential to the whole bread pudding process.
Sprinkle each loaf pan with an additional tablespoon each of sugar and bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes or until top is golden and pudding feels set. Allow to cool in water bath on wire racks until at room temperature.While the bread pudding is in the oven, make the caramel sauce. I’ve made different varieties in past posts, but this one is particularly easy and I recommend it.
Over medium-low heat, mix the brown sugar, half-and-half, butter, and salt in a saucepan, whisking lightly. Continue for 5-10 minutes until it begins to thicken.Add the vanilla extract and whisk for another minute to continue to thicken. Remove from heat.Pour the caramel sauce into a jar (or, if you’re creative like us, the pumpkin can you just emptied) and refrigerate. If your initial sauce seems way to thin, chilling it will solve that problem, I promise.
Once you’re ready to serve, scoop out of the pan and drizzle with caramel sauce.Because it’s vegetables and bread, big portions are totally acceptable. In fact, I’ve almost convinced myself it could be a breakfast food tomorrow morning.Anything that’s leftover should be covered with tinfoil and stored in the refrigerator. Heat up before serving and drizzle with more caramel.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 1/4 cup sugar, divided
- 1 loaf challah or other eggy bread, stale
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Slice the bread into thick slices and cut into quarters.
- Grease two loaf pans with butter and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar each.
- Press the bread into the two pans in overlapping layers.
- Set a kettle of water to boil while proceeding.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the whole milk and heavy cream until bubbles just start to form. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
- Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.
- Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla extract until well-combined.
- Slowly, while whisking constantly, pour in the hot mixture, making sure to keep pumpkin mixture smooth while pouring.
- Pour warm custard mixture over the two loaf pans, pressing bread down to absorb as much of the liquid as possible.
- Place loaf pans in a baking dish and pour boiling water around sides up about halfway. Sprinkle each loaf pan with an additional tablespoon each of sugar.
- Bake at 350°F in water bath for 45-60 minutes, or until golden and pudding is set.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool, in water bath on a wire rack, to room temperature.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine brown sugar, half-and-half, and butter. Whisk constantly for 5-10 minutes until mixture begins to thicken.
- Add vanilla extract and whisk for another minute to thicken further.
- Remove from heat and pour into container. Seal and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Before serving, drizzle over bread pudding.