Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Not all weekends are equals.  Sometimes, you get the weekend off without even booking it that way, and your long-lost friend Catherine is in town from Vancouver for One Night Only, so Melissa comes from out of town and KP comes from across town, and you all catch up over dinner for the first time in four years.  Not an average weekend! (Not least because Catherine, who studies black widow spiders, is full of excellent anecdotes, like that time she taunted the world’s biggest spider into posing for a photograph.)

We had a little bit of a feast.

So much of a feast, in fact, that we didn’t have room for dessert.  Conveniently, Friday’s spiced pumpkin bread pudding made a pretty great second breakfast, which we had with mugs of coffee on Saturday’s rainy October morning.

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This was a great dessert to make for a Friday night dinner because it’s so low maintenance.  I whisked the wet ingredients together while dinner was in the oven; the bread soaked while we ate dinner; we baked it while we opened the next bottle of wine.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s also so many things that I love: pantry-based ingredients; pumpkin + cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger/cloves; crispy topping and creamy centre. All weekend mornings should be so delicious.

Notes: As mentioned above, this baby reheats like a dream!  I used the loaf of Finnish Sweet Bread I had in the freezer, plus a few torn up English muffins to bulk up the volume. While the recipe calls for milk + cream, you could definitely opt for all milk or soymilk, and still come away with a delicious creation.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread Pudding

from Fine Cooking

Ingredients

2 15-oz. cans pumpkin puree
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups dark brown sugar
8 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 lb challah or other bread, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces (about 16 cups)

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1.  In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin with all ingredients but the bread, beating until smooth.  Add bread and stir until evenly coated.  Set aside for at least 15 minutes.

2.  Stir bread, and pour into a buttered 9×13 inch baking pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until a knife through the centre comes out clean.  Cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. If desired, top servings with whipped cream or a dusting of icing sugar.

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