When I hear the words bread pudding…

I am reminded of the English frog in Beatrix Potter, Mr. Jeremy Fisher, who says on the way to dinner with his comrades, in a very snotty voice, ” I do believe it will be a very good pud-ding.”

My introduction to this scrumptious recipe concept, was at Williams Sonoma in Raleigh when I was assigned to teach and cook for their annual Thanksgiving feast.  Mind you, we used their brand of pumpkin bread mix and topped it with their jar of Bourbon sauce.  It was good, but I knew it could be better.  Through the years, I’ve tried many versions of bread pudding on my own, both sweet & savory, and have come up with a few serious dessert variations~ pumpkin or ginger (my recipe below), chocolate and lemon.  For the chocolate, I like to use a chocolate cherry bread with a chocolate ganache.  Lemon is fantastic with lemon blueberry bread & lemon curd with a light glaze.  Not only is this is a terrific dessert, it is the perfect blend of hearty sweet & warm for a Brunch.  Treaditionally, you serve this in squares.  As a caterer, I’ve used a 2-inch cylindrical biscuit cutter to get bite size rounds which look beautiful stacked on a dessert buffet.

What I really love about bread pudding is that you can vary the flavor, prepare it in stages and it freezes beautifully.

The bread itself can be made from scratch, from a boxed mix, or bought from a bakery. Panetone is a rich stand in too.  Many different sauces can be used, store bought or homemade, from the traditional Bourbon caramel sauce to maple or fruity.  Even a thinned out heavy Balsamic vinegar, like Espresso or Fig would be a marvelous compliment in very small drizzle doses.

What I’ve learned along the way….

~ for a lighter, souffle type of bread pudding, let the bread cubes sit out overnight/24 hrs to get a little stale (this way they’ll really soak up the liquid).  Then once you pour eggs, sugar & cream mixture over the cubes, let that sit for a few hours or more before baking until the bread cubes have soaked up most of the liquid.

Since pumpkin bread pudding is my favorite, I thought it would be interesting to see if there’s a difference in store bought pumpkin bread mixes.   Here’s what I discovered. 2016-10-16-13-58-42

The Pillsbury mix had a touch of bitterness~ the spice overpowered the pumpkin.  The batter was lighter in color too and the baked result was crumbly and dry.  While the Krusteaz mix is intended for muffins, I followed the Pillsbury box directions for quick bread instead, which resulted in an over beaten batter and muffin top syndrome, but it had a nice robust pumpkin flavor, rich color and the perfect density. Going forward, I will be using Krusteaz mixes.

Tis the season to share one of my favorite Fall recipes with you.   Happy in the Kitchen!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 lb. loaf baked pumpkin bread (or gingerbread)

8 eggs, slightly beaten

2c. milk

2c. heavy cream

2c. sugar

1T. vanilla

2T. crystallized ginger

Bake bread according to box directions.  Cool completely.  Cut into 1 inch cubes and place on baking sheet for at least 8 hours, uncovered.  Transfer bread cubes to a 13 x 9 baking casserole. Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugar and vanilla until thoroughly combined and pour over the cubes. Let the cubes soak for at 2-12 hours, stirring frequently to assure each cube is wet.

Bake in 350 oven for 40 minutes.  Serve in squares while still warm, or spoon into champagne glasses.  Drizzle with bourbon sauce or other glaze, top with a dollop of whipped cream and dust with cinnamon sugar or cocoa and chopped nuts.

Ginger glaze

Make a thin confectioners sugar/milk glaze and add chopped crystallized ginger.

1c. 10X

3T. milk or water

1T. crystallized ginger

Recipe Source:  The Thyme Savor, Raleigh, NC