Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Vanilla-Bourbon Sauce

It's officially almost Thanksgiving!!!! I don't think I can begin to explain to you how much I love Thanksgiving.  It's one of my favorite holidays during the year (second only to Christmas...I'll always be a Christmas kind of girl).  Thanksgiving dinner is something I look forward to all year long, starting as early as the second I wake up from my first food coma of Thanksgiving day.  Normally, I eat pretty healthy and am good about managing my portions and what I eat throughout the day, but all that good-eating philosophy I typically live by gets thrown out the window on Thanksgiving.  I mean think about it.  This is the one day of the year where eating until you fall into a food coma is not only expected, but almost encouraged.  Ok, I'm kidding about falling into a food coma being encouraged, but regardless, it is the only day of the year where passing out on the living room couch with your belt undone is somewhat acceptable. 

Please tell me I'm not the only one that eats until I pass out on the couch as soon as I'm finished.  If I am, then please, no judging.  If it helps, I plan on going extra hard with my Insanity workout before Thanksgiving dinner starts.  Gotta keep a sense of balance!

Thanksgiving is not only about the food.  There's other traditions too!  One unknown fact about me that's not really a "tradition," but nevertheless happens consistently, is actually highly annoying.  Ever since I was little, I've somehow always (literally ALWAYS) managed to wake up on Thanksgiving feeling completely under the weather, and just plain old sick.  I have no idea why this happens.  I rarely get sick, but somehow, like clockwork, Thanksgiving morning comes, and I wake up feeling like the only thing that will get me out of this awful funk I'm in is a giant plate of stuffing (this tends to help a lot).  This year, however, is the year that I think this will all change.  I haven't started feeling weird yet, so I think this will be the first Thanksgiving in a long time where I'm actually going to be feeling 100% good (crossing my fingers that I didn't just jinx myself).  

Another Thanksgiving tradition I have, that's actually a tradition, is waking up early to watch March of the Wooden soldiers on Thanksgiving morning.  Yup, I'm the person that totally skips over the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, in favor of watching a really old movie that I've seen about 15 times by now.   I'm weird, I know.  It's ok though.  

Here's a dish that I think might just  have to  become a new tradition for Thanksgiving...pumpkin bread pudding with vanilla-bourbon custard sauce.  How good does that sound?!?!  This is one of those ambiguous kinds of recipes that can serve several different purposes.  Bread pudding works wonders for breakfast, brunch, and even dessert, so you have some added flexibility with this one.  I think bread pudding is the perfect option for a special brunch, not only because it's so simple to put together, but because it's an easy way to feed a lot of people all at once.  Not to mention that preparing a bread pudding is literally just whisking up a couple of ingredients into a bowl and pouring a custard over some stale bread (pro-tip: buy the bread you plan on using, I used a challah bread with raisins, the day before you intend to make the bread pudding.  Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes, and leave out in a baking dish overnight so the bread becomes stale.  By doing this, the bread will be able to soak up way more custard than if it were totally fresh!).  The bread pudding then gets baked for 45 minutes, which is plenty of time to clean up the two dishes you got dirty, or go back to watching March of the Wooden Soldiers (or the parade, if you're a parade kinda person).  

This bread pudding is perfecttt, in every way.  It has a subtle pumpkin flavor, which is nice if you're still undergoing your pumpkin-appreciation conversion (like me), but still comes out enough that a pumpkin-lover would be able to really enjoy.  The original recipe I used didn't call for raisins, but I love raisins in my bread pudding, and figured there would be no harm in adding a couple.  What takes this bread pudding to a whole new level though, is the vanilla-bourbon custard sauce.  It sounds fancy, but I assure you, it's quite simple to prepare.  Basically, if you can make a custard-based ice cream, you can make this sauce.  It's really no different at all!  The vanilla-bourbon sauce is rich and decadent, and you can add as much or as little bourbon to it as you wish.  If you're a little intimidated about making the custard sauce, or just want to have a simpler breakfast, I think that a good drizzle of pure maple syrup over the top of the bread pudding while it's still warm would be fantastic as well. 

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and I know I'm cutting it close with this post, but this bread pudding is simple enough (and delicious enough) that it should make an appearance on tomorrow's breakfast table, or could be a part of your Thanksgiving dessert spread. could make it just because.  That option is always good too.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Vanilla-Bourbon Sauce
recipe from Use Real Butter


For the Pumpkin Bread Pudding

5 cups day-old challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups whole milk 
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
18 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons bourbon

For the Vanilla-Bourbon Sauce

1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons sugar
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons bourbon (to taste, I used 4 tbsp)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and position a rack in the middle of the oven.  

In a large bowl, toss the bread and raisins (if using) together with the melted butter, and set aside.  In a separate bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, milk, sugar, eggs, egg yolk, salt, spices, and bourbon.  Pour the pumpkin custard over the cubed bread, and toss together, making sure that the bread is evenly coated in the pumpkin custard.  Pour the mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish, and bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes, or until the custard has set. 

While the bread pudding bakes, prepare the vanilla bourbon custard sauce.   In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and cream, and heat just until it begins to boil.  Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until smooth.  Very slowly, begin to pour the cream mixture in a steady stream into the egg yolk mixture, making sure to whisk continuously.  Once all the cream mixture has been incorporated, pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan, and heat over medium high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Heat the sauce just until the custard begins to thicken. Remove from the heat, and stir in the desired amount of bourbon. 

Once the bread pudding has finished baking, remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly.  Serve the bread pudding while it's still warm, with a good drizzle of the vanilla bourbon custard sauce.  Enjoy!

Makes about 6-8 servings


  1. This recipe is a keeper! I had some leftover pumpkin and it’s been years since I’ve made pumpkin bread and couldn’t remember what recipe I used. Very happy that your version popped up in my google search.
    Will definitely be making this again.

    Tracy Carpet Repair


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