Pumpkin puts me in a swoon. I love autumn primarily because so much food “goes pumpkin”—pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin doughnuts, even pumpkin beer. I also happen to be an absolute fool for bread pudding—so put the two together and oh my. Once in a flurry of pumpkin reverie, I discovered a way to make pumpkin bread pudding look actually elegant.
A few years ago I needed to bring my pumpkin bread pudding to a party, although I had hoped to bring something ravishing rather than a lumpy pudding in a cruddy lasagna pan. The kitchen muse struck and whispered “springform pan”—aha! I could then remove the ring and have a bread pudding cake! Topped with a mountain of mascarpone and candied pumpkin seeds—oh it was pretty. Since piling this with some type of over-caloric dairy is par for the course, I use milk instead of the more commonly used half and half for the custard. Using fresh pumpkin is divine, but using canned pumpkin makes this one of the world’s easiest desserts; you decide.
For the Bread Pudding
2 cups organic milk (or part half and half, if feeling naughty)
4 cups fresh pumpkin chunks, roasted, pureed and drained if very watery (or 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin)
1 cup maple sugar or Sucanat
2 large organic eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons bourbon or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 cups day-old bread cubes—challah, brioche, baguette, etc
1 cup (or more if you like) mascarpone (see hints) or fresh whipped cream
Maple-Candied Pumpkin Seeds
1 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon butter
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk milk pumpkin, maple sugar, eggs, spices and bourbon or vanilla in large bowl to blend. Fold in bread cubes.
3. Let stand 15 minutes, then put pudding mixture in a 9-inch springform pan.
4. Make the maple-candied seeds by tossing the seeds with maple syrup, grease a baking sheet with butter and spread seeds out in a single layer. Bake them with the bread pudding, stirring occasionally, until they are golden and caramelized. They should be on the dry side, but may still be sticky.
5. Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
6. Let cool. When ready to serve, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Remove ring from pan.
7. Top with thick swirls of mascarpone or whipped cream, and sprinkle with candied pumpkin seeds.