Pumpkin pie is a traditional part of than Thanksgiving meal for many families, such as staple that it is as expected as the turkey. I am a big pumpkin pie fan myself, but there are times when I am hosting people who just aren’t pie lovers or I simply want to do something a little different with my pumpkin while still making a dessert that can serve a crowd. This Pumpkin Bread Pudding is a dish that fits the bill nicely.
The bread pudding is made with a pumpkin custard base that is not unlike the filling of a pumpkin pie, although it has a lot more milk in it because there is a lot of bread that needs to be moistened. I am generous with the spices in this recipe, using plenty of pumpkin pie spice – a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg – so that there is a good spice level in every bite of the dessert. You need to be generous with the spices in part because this makes a fairly big batch of bread pudding, but also because bread puddings can be kind of bland, as that bread can slightly dampen any flavors that you add into the custard mix. It is sweet and spicy, full of pumpkin flavor and a hint of butteriness from the broiche bread that I used.
You can use any kind of white bread to make your bread pudding. Some recipes call for stale bread, but whether you use fresh bread or stale bread will not make a significant difference in the texture of the finished pudding. I prefer to use richer breads, like challah and brioche, for dessert bread puddings because they have such a good flavor on their own that they can only enhance the finished dish.
The bread pudding can be prepared ahead of time and stored, covered, in the refrigerator overnight if you want to bake it at the last minute. It can also be completely baked ahead of time and stored, covered, in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it. It is delicious both hot and cold, served with a dollop of whipped cream. And, since it is baked in a casserole dish, it is easy to serve out as big or small a portion as your guests have room for after eating a big meal!
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
2 3/4 cups milk
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (1-15 oz can)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
9-10 cups cubed bread, pref. challah or brioche
2 tbsp sugar + 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice until very smooth.
Place cubed bread in a large bowl, and pour pumpkin mixture over the top. Use a spatula to gently fold the bread cubes until they are well coated. Allow bread mixture to stand for 20 minutes to soak up the custard.
Pour bread mixture into prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the bread pudding.
Bake for 40 minutes, until the pudding springs back when lightly pressed and a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Leftovers should be cooled completely and stored in the refrigerator.