Little did I know, my first big challenge was finding a bakery with Brioche. I made a few phone calls and was shocked some “bakeries” didn’t even know what brioche was. I made a mental note to avoid going to their shops in the future. Finally I found Rustica Bakery in Minneapolis, which bakes fresh brioche on Tuesdays. So that would be my day.
Brioche is a rich yet light bread made with ample amounts of butter and eggs. It has a dark, golden, and flaky crust from an egg wash applied before and after proofing. The crust is a little too tough for bread pudding, so you’ll have to slice it off. But the texture and crumb of the bread is great to soak up the cream, milk, sugar and of course pumpkin. You can also use white bread, but I wouldn’t use a dense bread like Pepperidge Farm or Brownberry. This is where good old Wonder Bread is your best bet.
The bread pudding itself is very moist but not runny like some bread puddings (thank goodness). The pumpkin flavor is not overpowering, but it’s definitely pumpkin. It’s a great flavor for the fall and through the holidays. But the homemade caramel sauce really ties it all together with a rich sweetness alongside some refreshing ice cream.
Hopefully you have a full house, to share this with because it’s addictive. I had leftovers the next morning and it reminded me of French toast. I wondered if I could cut a square in half and fry it up. Sounds like a good breakfast worth trying.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Granulated sugar for dusting the pan
7 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
7 cups of cubed brioche or white bread (crusts removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
Caramel Sauce (here’s my post about this awesome caramel sauce)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of cream of tartar
1 cup heavy cream
Prepare pan: Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 13x9 baking dish. Dust with granulated sugar.
Prepare and Bake Bread Pudding: Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with the 1/2 cup sugar. Heat the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat until steamy but not boiling. Turn off the heat and add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and salt. Stir to mix. Slowly, pour over the egg yolks/sugar mixture while whisking. Gently fold in the bread cubes. Transfer the pudding mixture to baking pan. Bake until nicely browned and set, about 40 minutes.
Caramel Sauce: Combine 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, salt and cream of tartar in a small saucepan. DO NOT STIR. Bring to a boil and cook until the caramel browns. When the caramel is medium brown, carefully add 1 cup of cream and simmer.
Serve: Cut bread pudding into large squares or just spoon onto a plate. Spoon a layer of caramel on top. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. Serve alongside caramel swirl ice cream or even better, some salted caramel ice cream.