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Monday, December 6, 2010

Pumpkin Bread Pudding and Breaking Traditions

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I am a traditionalist when it comes to the holidays. I stick to family favorites. However, each year I try a few new dishes in addition to the usual. This year I decided I wanted to make a Pumpkin Bread Pudding. I was working out the details in my head. A few nights later I sat down to watch Bobby Flay's throw down with Ree Drummond on the Food Network. You'll never guess what dessert Bobby challenged Ree's Pecan Pie with?! Well, if you watched the show you know....PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING! I was glued to the TV and decided I would make his with a few changes. That's just who I am. Rarely do I follow a recipe to a T. There's always a change I want to make. That's what makes it so fun though! I didn't like how long and detailed the process was. I had a lot to cook and was running short on time and sleep at this point. I have a few bread pudding recipes under my belt now and felt confident in branching out on my own. I didn't have a vanilla bean or bourbon so I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of rum extract. I also left out the maple syrup, simply out of preference. I also didn't feel the need to cook it in a water bath...I was TIRED! One of my favorite cookbooks is The Amish Cook's Baking Book.There is a recipe in it for a Pumpkin Sheet Cake that I had planned on making during fall. I decided this was the perfect opportunity so I made it instead of Bobby's Pumpkin Bread. I couldn't help myself....or keep my brother out of it...so we tested a sliver of the Pumpkin Sheet Cake after it came out of the oven. It was divine!!! It tasted like the best Pumpkin Bread you have ever put in your mouth. I think it will be my new Pumpkin Bread recipe. It MADE the bread pudding. Bobby's Pumpkin Bread Pudding had a Vanilla Bean Cream Anglaise layer and Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce over it. While it sounded amazing, I was going for something a little more simple and classic. It's Thanksgiving after all. I knew the real test would be when three people tasted it: my brother, a bread pudding fanatic and connoisseur, my dad, a pumpkin lover and my mom, who despises bread pudding. I handed them both a plate and needless to say; it passed the test with flying colors. My mom and brother loved it. But I knew it was a keeper when my dad deemed it better than Pumpkin or Sweet Potato Pie. My dad is a Southerner through and through and thinks there is nothing better than Sweet Potato Pie and Pumpkin Pie. I think to any true southerner that statement may have even been sinful! I sent him home with another helping and next year...we will have Pumpkin Bread Pudding and the year after that...and the year after that! We may broken old traditions, but we also created a new one. I can live with that! Did you try anything new this Thanksgiving? I would love to hear about it!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

For the pumpkin sheet cake:

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup nuts of your choice

2 cups pureed pumpkin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Present the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients until the mixture is evenly and thoroughly combined. Spoon into a 10 by 15-inch pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes and then cut it into 1 inch squares.

For the custard:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

6 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon rum extract

1 heaping cup canned pumpkin puree

Cut the pumpkin cake into 1-inch squares and evenly distribute in a 9x13-inch pan. Lower the oven to 325. Combine the cream, milk and vanilla extract in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk together the yolks, sugar, rum extract, and canned pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined. Pour the custard over the pumpkin cake cubes, pressing down on the cake to totally submerge it in the custard. Bake until sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 45 minutes. Enjoy!