To start my bread pudding experiment, I started with most of a loaf of cranberry pumpkin bread. This bread comes out so very moist that sometimes after being wrapped up for a few days it becomes even more gooey and sticky than before. So before attempting to puddify it, I sliced the loaf and laid out the pieces on the counter, covered lightly with a paper towel, for 24 hours. This just barely began to dry out the outsides. Then I took the slices and popped them in the toaster oven on low heat, between 200 and 300 degrees, for about 5 minutes (until it started to smell a bit smoky and I had to take them out!) They still weren't dry or stale by any means, but they were less moist, so I was ready to begin the recipe.
My pumpkin bread pudding recipe was adapted with many thanks from Not Your Momma's Cookie. And I served it topped with a vanilla sauce. In my recipe I substituted buttermilk for the liquid (I use buttermilk whenever I can!), left out the pumpkin puree because I didn't want the additional moisture, and threw in some more cranberries of course!
1 complete loaf (or a loaf minus one or two slices) of cranberry pumpkin bread
a handful of whole fresh cranberries
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2/3 cup white sugar (next time I'm going to experiment with brown sugar instead)
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I didn't have any premixed so I added a pinch each of powdered ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
Cut or tear pumpkin spice bread into small pieces. Add to greased 8x8" baking dish along with cranberries. Drizzle bread with melted butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, sugar, spices and vanilla until smooth. Pour over bread pieces. Make sure that all pieces of bread are soaked in liquid.
Cover and put in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45-50 minutes. It will be jiggly and puffy. Let cool. Serve warm or room temperature.
My pumpkin bread did not absorb as much of the liquid as a drier bread probably would, but what remained around the chunks of bread became this amazing custard. Although very soft, everything set together nicely and could be easily sliced into squares. I recommend re-toasting your slice on a pan or piece of foil in the toaster oven before eating leftover portions to get a little crispiness on the outside. YUM.
But don't forget the vanilla sauce! I compiled this recipe from reading a dozen or so online. I added corn starch towards the end after sifting it through a fine tea strainer, and after thickening the sauce at a boil for about a minute I ended up with a creamy texture with itty bitty tapioca-type bits evenly dispersed throughout. I think they just add to the deliciousness so I'm going with it, but to avoid this I've listed a smaller amount of cornstarch and I'd recommend pulling it off the heat as soon as it reaches a boil.
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup sugar (I think I'll cut this down a bit next time)
a pinch of nutmeg
about 2 tsp of cornstarch
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Mix first 4 ingredients and heat to a simmer, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and stir in well, then add cornstarch and mix well. Slowly bring to a boil, still stirring frequently, then switch off the heat. Pour over baked pudding.