Makes 6 to 8 servings
When I came upon a pumpkin bread pudding a few years ago, it seemed like a tempting twentieth-century twist on an old English classic. Then a few weeks later, I read a 1749 entry in Travels into North America, in which the Swedish visitor Peter Kalm noted that settlers used pumpkin to make puddings and tarts.
Considering how long pumpkin puddings have been around, it's surprising that they aren't more widely prepared. This one has a soothing pumpkin-and-spice flavor and aroma, and it makes a fine, never-fail substitute for pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. It's also ideal for fall and winter brunches.
4 large eggs
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar,
plus 3 tablespoons for sprinkling on pudding
1 cup whole milk
1 cup light or heavy (whipping) cream
1 15-ounce can solid-pack pumpkin (not seasoned pie filling)
2-3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
5-1/2 cups cubed (1/3 inch) crusty French
or Italian bread, crust removed
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
Bourbon Sauce (page 230 of the book) or
Brown Sugar-Orange Sauce (page 231) for serving (optional)
Ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream for serving (optional)
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 7-by-11-inch or 9-inch square baking dish or coat with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl using a wire whisk, beat the eggs until frothy and smooth. Add the brown sugar, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the milk, cream, pumpkin, and spices until completely blended and smooth. Stir in the bread cubes and cranberries. Turn out the mixture into the dish, spreading to the edges. Lay a sheet of baking parchment or wax paper on the surface and press down to keep the bread submerged. Let stand for 10 minutes. Peel off and discard the paper.
Bake for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar over the pudding and continue baking just until the center of the pud- ding is firm when lightly tapped, 12 to 17 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve spooned into bowls. Drizzle with sauce and/or garnish with scoops of ice cream or dollops of whipped cream, if desired.
The pudding will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat to very warm but not hot just before serving.
If preparing this recipe for a crowd, you may want to double it. Bake it in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (which will be very full) for 35 minutes, then sprinkle on the brown sugar and continue baking until the center is firm when lightly tapped, 20 to 30 minutes longer.
The All-American Dessert Book
by Nancy Baggett
Hardcover, 448 pages
$35.00, fall-color photographs, 150 recipes
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created November 2005
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