Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sundays with Sparky - Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding


Everybody needs a good holiday potluck dish, and this one has been my escort to many a party. It works for almost any holiday from Halloween to New Year's, and it is always gratefully gobbled up wherever I take it. I'm frankly glad to finally get the recipe written down, because I originally adapted it on the fly from this recipe, and I always miss something, since I never remember exactly what I did or how.


1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tbsp bourbon
2 cups milk
10 cups sturdy bread, torn into chunks (grocery-store challah is a good choice*)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (reserve a sprinkling for the top)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, lightly chopped, drizzled or well-coated with 1-2 tbsp honey, maple syrup, or sugar

*Note: the type of bread makes a big difference in the finished product. This time, we used fluffy and sweet dinner rolls, which made the whole thing something like a pumpkin mousse (not a bad thing, just different.) I prefer using the sort of bread that bounces back instead of rolling into pills between your fingers; it makes a sturdier, more traditional bread pudding.) You may need to adjust the sugar according to the sweetness of your bread.

003Sparky tore up our rolls into bite-sized chunks, and put one layer on the bottom of an 8-cup casserole dish. He then tossed in about half of the cranberries and a heavy sprinkle of walnuts

(we forgot to cut the cranberries, which I don't recommend; although they are there to balance the sweetness of the custard, the sourness of whole cranberries can be jarring.) He then repeated the process until the casserole was full, reserving about 2 tablespoons of nuts for the topping.

006Pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, spices and vanilla and bourbon were gleefully dumped into a bowl and whisked together, and then milk slowly stirred in until we had a soupy batter. This was carefully poured into the casserole; Sparky made sure to cover each bit of bread.

011At this point, you can either refrigerate it for up to a day, or if you're in a hurry, use a spatula to fold the mixture and make sure that all the bread is well-soaked with custard and the nuts and cranberries are evenly distributed. Top with the remaining walnuts.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake your custard for 35-45 minutes, or until it puffs up in the middle and is golden brown on top. It should be slightly jiggly in the center, but poke the middle with a skewer and make sure it's not soupy.


Serve warm or cold with whipped cream.  Enjoy!


Sara said...

This looks so tasty...all those perfect fall flavors...yum!

Michele Hays said...

Thanks so much, Sara! If you make it, do post back and tell me how it went!

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