A decadent pumpkin bread pudding recipe full of autumn spices, baked to perfection, and topped with a rich caramel sauce.
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‘Tis the season – for all things pumpkin. Pumpkin has become wildly popular during the fall months over the past few years and for good reason – it’s delicious. It’s also one of those things that defines an entire season. There’s no mistaking it – when we think about pumpkins, we think about fall. So, I’ve been trying to think of ways to incorporate more pumpkin into my life. A few weeks ago, my spouse and I went to a wine bar for a few drinks and dessert. There was bread pudding on the menu. Decision made. The only thing that could make bread pudding any better than it is? Pumpkin. And maybe some caramel sauce. Hence, the scheme for this Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce was hatched.
The key to any bread pudding? Bread. Any kind of bread will probably do, but I find it best to go for one that is dense and semi-dry. I used ciabatta for this recipe, but challah, brioche, or sourdough would work great as well. A softer bread will give you a softer texture once it’s cooked, but I like bread pudding that’s got some density to it. Cut a loaf of bread into cubes and set them aside in a bowl. The size of the cubes is up to you – I chopped my bread into roughly one inch cubes. It’s OK if the bread dries out a little bit as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. The bread will just soak up all that pumpkin goodness.
Now is a good time to get a few things out of the way. 1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 2) Butter an 11×7 baking dish. This will keep all that bread from sticking to the surface of the dish. In a separate bowl, combine the following ingredients: 1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling), 2 eggs, 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated if possible), 1/4 tsp. cloves, and 1/8 tsp. salt. Mix all of these ingredients together until you have a smooth consistency. Grab the baking dish and pour about a cup of the pumpkin mixture into the bottom. Then, add a few cups of the bread and toss until coated. Repeat a few times, alternating the bread and pumpkin mixture and toss together until all of the bread is fully coated. Depending on the size of bread loaf, you may have a bit extra.
Once the bread is fully coated, let the mixture sit for 15 minutes so that the bread soaks up all that pumpkin flavor. After all the flavors have soaked together, the bread pudding is ready for baking. Place the pan in a 350 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes. Be forewarned – your house will start to smell amazing. You want the edges of the bread to get golden and crusty. The inner part of the pumpkin bread pudding will remain soft and have a ‘french toast’ type texture. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool.
We could stop there, but we’re not going to. The whole thing is topped with a homemade caramel sauce. If you’ve never made caramel sauce, don’t worry. It’s really easy to prepare. I personally don’t care for super sweet desserts, so the bread pudding portion of this one is only mildly sweet. Much of the sweetness comes from the caramel sauce and you can add as much or as little of it as you like.
To prepare the sauce, heat 3 Tbsp. butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Once the butter has melted, add 1/2 cup brown sugar and combine the two ingredients, stirring constantly. Do this for a minute or so until the brown sugar deepens in color. Now, slowly add 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream to the pan and continue to stir constantly. The key to caramel sauce is not to burn it. Stir for another minute or so until you’ve reached the consistency you want. Remove from heat and set aside.
Now it’s time to dig in and remember why fall is one of the best times of the year. Scoop a big portion of the pumpkin bread pudding into a serving bowl and drizzle with some of the caramel sauce. For an extra touch, top the whole thing with a little bit more nutmeg. I highly recommend grating some fresh nutmeg on top if you can. I’m telling ya – there’s nothing like fresh nutmeg. I’ll tell you what else – there’s nothing like bread pudding. And the pumpkin just makes it that much better.
- 1 loaf hearty bread - such as ciabatta challah, brioche, sourdough
- 1 15 oz can pumpkin puree not pumpkin pie filling
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg freshly grated if possible
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter 11x7 inch baking dish.
- Cut loaf of bread into large cubes. Set aside.
- Combine pumpkin puree, eggs, heavy whipping cream, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a bowl and mix together until smooth.
- Pour a cup of pumpkin mixture into pan and add a few cups of bread cubes. Toss together to coat. Repeat a few times until the pumpkin mixture has coated all the bread cubes.
- Let sit for 15 minutes to allow bread to soak up mixture.
- Bake for 40 minutes until edges are golden brown.
- Heat butter in small saucepan over medium low heat.
- Add brown sugar and stir constantly until combined.
- Slowly add heavy whipping cream and stir constantly until combined for a minute or two.
- Remove from heat.
- Serve bread pudding in a bowl topped with caramel sauce.
You may have a little extra bread, depending on the size of bread loaf used.