Pumpkin Bread Pudding

The first time I had warm pumpkin bread pudding was at The Nashville Food Project. The bread pudding had just come out of the oven, and one of the staff members had spooned some of it into a bowl for us volunteers to taste. We all stood around the stainless steel countertop sinking our spoons into the warm bowl of dessert and gushed about how delicious it was. I mean it was warm, and the vanilla glaze was dripping down the sides. You can find TNFP’s recipe for bread pudding along with many other crowd-pleasing recipes in the Cook for a Crowd section of their website.

The title of the recipe on the website is Banana Bread Pudding, but you can substitute almost any fruit for the bananas. In addition to making it with pumpkin purée, I’ve made it with fresh-cut peaches, with chopped apples, and with mixed berries. They all work. I’ve made it to serve 12 people for a dinner party, 25 people for a summer cookout and 50 students for a school gathering. I’ve served bread pudding with a simple vanilla glaze drizzled over the top of cut squares, and I’ve served it all dolled up with caramel sauce and whipped cream for a special family dinner. You can’t go wrong with this dessert once you get comfortable making it.

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A note on bread choices. Some people like to use sweet bread like stale croissants or challah, but I prefer a more chewy texture, so I use a crusty white bread. I would stay away from soft “Italian” loaves like this one from a local grocery store:

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It looked to be a crusty Italian loaf, but it was very soft,and light and the bread pudding I made with it looked soupy before I cooked it. Once baked, it was flat and rubbery. I fed it to the chickens.

At the end of this recipe, I have provided recipes for three different toppings for your bread pudding: Vanilla Glaze, Caramel Sauce, and Homemade Whipped Cream

Yield: Serves 12-15

Ingredients:

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Mise en Place:

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8-9 cups crusty, stale bread, roughly chopped or cubed into 1-inch squares
3 large eggs
2½ cups whole milk, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1¾ cups pumpkin purée (one 15 oz can or purée from a small pie pumpkin)
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350º.

Butter a 9 x 12-inch baking pan or a similarly sized ceramic casserole dish.

Prepare bread crumbs and arrange in baking pan.

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Add raisins and chopped nuts to and mix well.

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Add eggs to mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until blended.DSC_0055

Add milk, sugars, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and pumpkin purée. Mix well for about 30 seconds.

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Pour pudding on top of bread and let liquid seep into the breadcrumb mixture. Lightly press down, so all the bread is submerged in the custard. Let set for about 20 minutes. Use a fork to check that all the breadcrumbs are moist.

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The overall consistency should be like that of thick oatmeal. If it appears to be soupy, add more diced bread.

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Bake for about 50-60 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven. It’s ready when the crust just starts to turn color to a light brown.

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To Serve:

How to Make Vanilla Glaze:

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1 cup powdered confectioner’s sugar (aka 10x sugar), sifted
1 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Be sure to sift the sugar, so it isn’t lumpy. Mix ingredients together. Usually, when using this glaze, I pour it over the whole dessert and then cut squares and place them on plates to serve.

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I had some bread pudding leftovers in the refrigerator and decided to play around with it. After cutting out the leaf shape with a cookie cutter, I warmed it in the microwave and then drizzled the Vanilla Glaze over it. It was good.

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How to Make Caramel Sauce:

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1¼ cups packed brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup whipping cream or heavy cream
Add brown sugar and butter into a small heavy skillet and cook over medium-high heat.
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Whisk until butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.DSC_0107  DSC_0109

Add cream and whisk until well blended. Set your timer for three minutes and continue to cook and whisk until sugar dissolves. The caramel will come to a nice rolling boil and darken in color.
Note: the handle of the first wire whisk got very hot while I was stirring, so I switched to one with a tubular handle and it stayed cool. Something to think about when buying whisks.
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For this version of the dessert, I used a large round biscuit cutter to cut circular portions of bread pudding.
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To plate the dessert: I poured a small amount of warm caramel sauce on a  dessert plate. Next, I placed the round disc of warm bread pudding onto the caramel sauce and then lightly pressed it into the sauce and topped it whipped cream.
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How to Make Whipped Cream:
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 1 cup whipping cream or heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)
Add cream, vanilla, and sugar to the chilled bowl of the mixer. Beat cream for one minute on medium high and then increase speed to high once the cream starts to thicken, otherwise, the cream will spray all over the kitchen. It took four minutes for the cream to whip.
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I had to channel my inner Mary Carter, my food stylist friend who I featured in the post, Playing with your Food to bump this dessert up a notch.
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My friend, Corabel Shofner, made this dessert for our Thanksgiving Dinner and told everyone she felt like a “real chef” making something so tasty and beautiful. That’s the fun part of tackling a new recipe and watching people delight in what you have prepared.
 Add some bling for the next big holiday!
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© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

@judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing

When your son calls and asks, “How do you make salad dressing, Mom?” first, you melt, and then you get busy blogging. After all, wasn’t that the reason you started blogging, so your kids could have easy access to THE recipes with a few good Big Fat Italian stories thrown in for good measure?

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Salad dressing is a staple you might want to consider making from scratch. It’s easy to make and nice to have readily available, there are no preservatives or sugar in it, it doubles as a last-minute chicken, pork tenderloin, or steak marinade, and as long as you keep olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic pepper, and salt in the cupboard you’ll never run out. Once you start making your own, it will become second nature to keep the vinaigrette bottle full.

Yield:  One cup (easily doubled or quadrupled)

Ingredients:
⅓ cup red wine vinegar (not red wine balsamic*)
⅔ cup extra virgin, first cold pressed, olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon McCormick California Style Garlic Pepper

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*I do not make this make-ahead vinaigrette with balsamic red wine vinegar. For some reason, the mixture turns syrupy when I do. I know not why. It doesn’t happen when I use white wine balsamic vinegar.

Directions:
Mix all ingredients together and shake. Store at room temperature. When measuring,  I eyeball the vinegar and oil — one-third vinegar to two-thirds oil — and use a measuring spoon for the salt and garlic pepper. I’ve been making this salad dressing for 20 years. I had no idea my kids had noticed.

The key ingredient is McCormick’s California Style Garlic Pepper with Red Bell and Black Pepper. I prefer garlic pepper to garlic salt because I have more control over the amount of salt since I can see the pepper to garlic ratio. You can’t say that about garlic salt. I also use garlic pepper in marinades, rubs, and as a prime seasoning ingredient for roasted vegetables. It’s how I push the easy button when making dinner day in and day out. True confession: I travel with it on vacations when I know I will be cooking.

Here’s my favorite winter salad, Grapefruit and Greens Salad:

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And, my favorite spring salad, the Lily Pulitzer Salad.

And, my favorite potluck summer salad, affectionally known as Meera’s Trader Joe Salad

During the summer, I use the marinade to make Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts every time we have a crowd to feed for dinner.

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A few other salads dressed with this vinaigrette:

Roasted Beet Salad with Vinaigrette

Blanched String Beans with Vinaigrette

Marlin’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad

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P.S. I have searched for years for a better drip-free salad dressing bottle than my 15-year-old Tupperware jar (on the left, in the first photo). I finally found one I like. It’s made by OXO.

LET’S STAY CONNECTED!

Follow my photos of vegetables growing, backyard chickens hanging out, and dinner preparations on Instagram at JudysChickens.

Never miss a post: sign up to become a follower of Judy’s Chickens.

© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.