Pumpkin Bread Pudding

This luscious recipe is essentially pumpkin pie and bread pudding combined in one dessert.  It’s like eating two desserts in one.

Pumpkin Bread PuddingI made this for a friend’s birthday, topping it with caramel-bourbon sauce and softly whipped heavy cream.  It’s a great dessert to serve at any Fall gathering.  This recipe makes enough for a crowd, but it’s easy to make a 1/2 batch.  Just use 1/2 of the ingredients and smaller baking dish.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
serves 16 – 20

32 oz (4 cups) pumpkin puree*
1 LB loaf plain white bread, (stale bread is great) cut into 1 inch cubes**
1 quart half-n-half
18 oz (2 1/4 cups, packed) light brown sugar
6 large eggs
1 TB ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 TB butter, melted

Butter a 13 X 9 X 3 baking dish with the 2 TB melted butter.  (The shape of the pan doesn’t matter — just needs to be big enough to hold all the ingredients)  Put the cubed bread in the buttered pan.

Mix the remaining ingredients until they are thoroughly combined.  Pour over the cubed bread.  Allow to rest at room temp for 15 minutes or so to allow the bread to soak up some of the liquid.  Bake for one hour at 350, then check the center of the pudding with a bread knife.  The center should be soft, not too liquid.  One other test is to tap the side of the pan.  The center of the pudding shouldn’t wiggle.  Cool for an hour at room temperature before serving.

When the pumpkin bread pudding is cooled, drizzle the whole thing with 1/2 cup of caramel sauce thinned with a couple tablespoons of bourbon. (Click here for my recipe for caramel sauce.)  Serve individual portions with whipped cream and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon.

*  I baked a medium sized Sugar Pie pumpkin, cut in half, seeds removed, cut side down, until soft.  I then scooped the flesh out of the skin, and pureed it in my food processor with a little bit of water until it was smooth.  This yielded just the right amount of pumpkin puree.  You can also use the equivalent amount of butternut squash puree.  Any rich, smooth textured winter squash will work.  Using canned pumpkin is just fine — this recipe will use two 15 oz cans.

**  I used Acme Sweet Loaf in this recipe.  This is a plain white bread with good structure.  Any basic supermarket french loaf will work.  Look for a neutral flavored bread with some tooth.  Avoid bread that is too squishy or soft.

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