Updated: Sep 25
We all love a good rags-to-riches story.
The kid who grew up poor, persevered, and overcame is the classic story of struggle and redemption.
If bread pudding were a person, she would have such a story: a scrappy, resourceful, humble dessert, once only welcomed in humble kitchens in humble neighborhoods, consumed only by those of common, low-class, meager means.
Now, Bread Pudding has hit the big time, finding her way into the fanciest restaurants and dinner parties, where women with pulled faces and men wearing blue velvet loafers swoon over stale bread soaked in milk.
It makes me laugh a little, because you and I have always known that bread pudding is one of the most satisfying desserts ever invented. Sweet, warm, and heartening, breading pudding is as comforting as a hug from your mother.
I'm proud of Bread Pudding, too. She's had some fame and can afford to dress a little better now, i.e. dessert breads and pricey liqueurs, but she hasn't lost her identity nor is she afraid to show us what she's made of, a dessert made of bread.
Top Three Quotes about Bread:
“I like reality. It tastes like bread.” —Jean Anouilh
“All sorrows are less with bread. ” ―Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Crème Anglaise
A basic bread pudding is made of milk (cream), eggs, sugar, and bread. To incorporate the flavors of fall, I've added warm spices, pumpkin puree, and amaretto. This would be a perfect dessert for Thanksgiving as an alternative to pumpkin pie.
* For tips and tricks on how to make this autumn bread pudding perfect every time, scroll down and read the Cook's Notes.
Baking spray to spray 9x13 dish
1 lb brioche bread, cubed into 1 -inch pieces
4 TBSP butter, melted
1 cup amaretto liqueur
1 cup golden raisins
2 cups heavy cream
1 TBSP vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
¾ cup pumpkin puree
recipe for crème anglaise to follow
Preheat the oven at 375 degrees F. Cube bread and transfer it to a cookie sheet. Melt 4 TBSP of butter in the microwave for 30-40 seconds or on the stovetop and drizzle over bread. Lightly toss and then bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, on very low heat (otherwise alcohol will ignite), add amaretto and raisins and gently heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk six eggs, add heavy cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree. Strain raisins over the bowl, whisking the amaretto into the mixture. Reserve the raisins.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13 dish with baking spray and add the toasted bread cubes. Pour the custard mixture over the bread and then sprinkle the raisins evenly on top. You’ll want to let the bread soak in for 30 minutes. Tip: Every 5-10 minutes, I use the palm of my hands to press the bread down allowing the bread on top to soak in all that custardy goodness.
Cover the bread pudding with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes
Remove from heat and let it set for 10 to 15 minutes.
For the Crème Anglaise:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs yolks
½ cup sugar
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream and vanilla (do not let it boil). To temper the eggs, pour in a little of the hot cream (like a tablespoon’s worth) into the egg mixture, whisking constantly and vigorously. Gradually add all of the cream (still whisking the entire time). Add crème anglaise back into the saucepan over medium heat, still whisking, and whisk until crème anglaise thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
To reheat leftover, pumpkin bread pudding so it tastes as nice and moist as when it first came out of the oven, pour a little milk in the bottom of a small, non-stick skillet. Cut a piece of bread pudding, and set it in the milk and cover with a lid. Gently heat the pudding over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
To achieve this same result in the microwave, pour a little milk in a single-serve, microwave-safe bowl. Add the pudding and cover with a wet paper towel (I always cover food with a wet paper towel when reheating in the microwave. It prevents food from drying out.) Heat for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on your microwave’s strength.
Just because I rarely do things perfectly, I like to strain my crème anglaise (or any type of custard) through a fine mesh sieve. This makes a perfectly smooth sauce and removes any bits of eggs that I accidentally scrambled.
If you realize that you cooked your crème anglaise a little too long and it’s too thick, remove it from the heat and whisk in some more heavy cream until you reach the consistency you desire.
If you realize that you don’t want to make crème anglaise at all, but like the idea of a sauce, go buy some vanilla ice cream, melt it, and pour it over top.
Want to make a a basic bread pudding? Follow the recipe above omitting the the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg and even the liqueur.
What about a chocolate bread pudding? Make a basic bread pudding, add 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder and switch out the raisins for 8 ounces chocolate chips.
Switch the amaretto for rum, bourbon, or Gran Marnier.
You can also substitute the brioche for croissants or danish or any sweet bread that you like.
A good mesh strainer can make your life so much easier, strain sauces, soups, your coffee (those little gritty grains are always sneaking into my mug), or just get the lumps out of your powdered sugar :