Yesterday was Casey’s birthday. I usually try to make him one of his favorites when we celebrate. He loves bread pudding! I’ve never made it for him and this is the year! Since I’m trying to do pumpkin recipes during September, I decided to put a pumpkin spin on traditional bread pudding. That turned out to be a real good idea!
Bread pudding comes in many forms but it’s basically cream, eggs, vanilla and bread baked all together. What’s not to love?
Casey likes more of a custard type bread pudding. As I reviewed recipes, I concluded that to get a more custard like texture, the cream should be cooked and the entire thing should be baked in a water bath.
I wish I could tell you I took the simple route but I really wanted to make this incredible for him. Therefore, I made a few components that all came together to make one spectacular explosion of flavor!
This thing is layer after layer of flavor! Let’s get into making it!
First off is a Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise. Huh? I didn’t know much about that but it’s rich and full of half-and-half, vanilla beans, egg yolks and sugar. Simmer the half-and-half and vanilla bean and seeds then slowly whisk into the eggs and sugar mixture. Strain it and cool in an ice bath. Look at all the pretty vanilla bean flecks. It should be smooth and beautiful! Pop it in the fridge until it’s time to dish up your dessert.
Spicy Caramel Bourbon Sauce is not difficult to make, but it definitely requires your attention because there’s boiling sugar involved. The flavor of this sauce is not for people who fear flavor. I’m one of those people who love flavor and concluded this sauce belongs in everything. I added it to my coffee. I kept thinking about it hours after I finished making it. It’s unique and so, so good! I’ve never used star anise in anything before. It packs a little punch! Oh, and there’s bourbon.
You just have to watch that sugar and catch it right when it’s at the amber color stage and quickly whisk in the warm cream a little at a time. This sauce can be made ahead of time, just stick it in a jar in the fridge. Well, I mean, after you put some in your coffee. Warm it up later to pour on top of the bread pudding.
Now it’s time to get going on the main dish. You may already have your pumpkin pie spice and pumpkin puree made if you caught my last couple posts. You get to use them in this recipe! Cream, milk, eggs, sugar, spices, pumpkin, vanilla, bourbon and BREAD!
I’m using challah bread. You can certainly use pumpkin bread but I’m sticking with challah since Casey isn’t as crazy about everything pumpkin as I am. Challah holds up well and soaks in all the custard. A nice french bread would also work well.
Make the custard, cube the bread, pour the custard over the bread and bake.
Take a deep breath. Lots of steps and lots of dishes to be done. Grab ya a swig of bourbon. Chase it with some of the challah bread dunked in the caramel sauce. Do the dishes and wait for the smell of the bread pudding to find its way into your kitchen.
Carrie had a field hockey game after school so I made this and left to go to her game. When we got home, I heated up the sauce, Carrie made whipped cream, I got all spun up making sure each one was assembled correctly, we sung, blew out candles and dug in!
Start with the layer of Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, add the warm bread/custard, drizzle with the warm Spicy Caramel Bourbon Sauce and top with fresh whipped cream. AMAZING!
We all loved it! Casey approved and we were practically licking our bowls. I was pouring sauce on pieces of bread from the pan and shoving them in my mouth. You know, the stuff you eat right out of the pan doesn’t count, right? 🙂 The only change I’d make is to use less bread or make more of the custard. Ummmmm. More custard! I’ll do that next time. There will be a next time on this one!
This is one of those desserts that takes time if you want to make all the sauce components (which, I highly recommend). If not, just make the bread pudding part and top it with ice cream or whipped cream and call it a day. You can experiment with different spices, breads and flavors.
Happy birthday, Casey! Thanks for always supporting and trying my baking ideas! I loe you (I know there’s no v…it’s our thing).
From the heart,
Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons bourbon
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined, remove the vanilla pod, and whisk in the bourbon. Strain the custard into a clean bowl.
- Scatter the bread cubes in a buttered 9 by 13-inch baking glass baking dish.
- Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the custard.
- Place the pan in a larger roasting pan and pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and water bath and cool on a baking rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup pure cane sugar
- Bring the half-and-half and vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
- Whisk together the yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until at the pale ribbon stage.
- Slowly whisk in the hot half-and-half, return the mixture to the pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon.
- Strain into a bowl and set over an ice bath. Stir until chilled.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.
Spicy Caramel Bourbon Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup apple juice
1 star anise
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 TBSP Kentucky bourbon
- Combine the cream, apple juice, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a clean, small saucepan and place back over low heat while you make the caramel.
- Combine the sugar, water and, vinegar in a medium saucepan over high heat and cook without stirring, until it’s a deep amber color, about 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the warm cream mixture a little at a time, and continue whisking until smooth. Add the bourbon and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. The sauce can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over low heat before serving.