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Pumpkin bread pudding

The Husband-Type Man has been keen on the idea of making SOME kind of bread pudding for Thanksgiving, and, when I presented him with the aforementioned Union Square Café Cookbook as an early birthday gift, he zeroed in on this recipe immediately. The cookbook suggests that the pumpkin bread be made a few days ahead of time (it gives the spices a chance to blend), and that the bread can be served on its own as well. Two desserts in one!

It's a little more complex... and a little more sophisticated... than the "Cat Box Pie" he made last year....

Pumpkin bread:

  • 1 cup currants
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin purée
  • ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

Custard:

  • 2 ½ cups half-and-half
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the currants and dark rum and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat., and set aside to plump the currants, 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Butter and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  4. Place the pumpkin puree in a bowl. Strain the currants into a colander held over the bow and incorporate the rum into the pumpkin puree. Set aside the currants.
  5. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and airy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the eggs until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the pumpkin puree, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in the currants.
  6. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake 1 hour and 40 minutes, until firm to the touch. Cool 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack and allow the cake to cool completely.
  7. In a medium saucepan, mix the half-and-half, sugar, and ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and steep the ginger form 20 minutes. Strain and reserve.
  8. Whisk together the eggs and the vanilla until foamy. Whisk in the half-and-half mixture until thoroughly blended.
  9. To assemble the pudding, cut the loaf of pumpkin bread in half lengthwise. Wrap one half and refrigerate or freexe for another use. Cut the other half into 16 square slices, then cut each square diagonally to make 32 triangles.
  10. In a shallow, 12 x 7 inch oval gratin dish, arrange the triangles cut side down in overlapping rows to fill the dish completely. Pour the custard mixture into the dish, pouring around the pumpkin bread to keep the top edges dry. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the pumpkin bread and set aside for 10 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the custard.
  11. Place the gratin dish in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 minutes, until the custard is set around the edges yet still slightly soft toward the center. Remove the gratin dish from the water as soon as it is taken from the oven. Dust with confectioners’ sugar; scoop out portions, and serve warm.

Serves 6