I love pudding. Whether you’re talking about crème brûlée, or a bowl of rice pudding it’s a dessert I’ve cherished since I was wee lad. That’s why I was intrigued when I first encountered bread pudding about 20 years ago.
It was on the menu at my favorite restaurant at the time, and given my affinity for other puddings I was immediately attracted to it. Imagine my disappointment when my sweet custardy expectations were met with a lump of dried out bread with raisins sticking out of it (to this day I’m not a fan of raisins).
Still, the concept intrigued me, and I persisted to order and experiment with it both at restaurants and at home. As it turns out, I love bread pudding, but there are a few tricks to making a really great bread pudding. I’m talking about a pudding that’s smooth and custardy in the middle with a crispy caramelized crust on top.
The first thing is you add a lot more liquid than you think it will need. I usually use a 1-2 ratio (1 part liquid to 2 parts bread). The second trick is to soak the mixture overnight. This allows the custard to soak into every last bit of crust, giving you a velvety smooth texture. The last trick is to blast the top at the very end to give it a crispy top.
This week I’ve used those tricks to make a fantastic savory bread pudding that tastes a whole lot better than most traditional stuffings I’ve had. It’s moist and flavorful, with just a hit of sweetness coming from the Kabocha pumpkin. Served alongside the roast bird of your choice, it is simply divine.
Savory Pumpkin Bread Pudding
This version of bread pudding ensures you won't wind up with dried out bread in this recipe that adds some pumpkin too! Marc Matsumoto of NoRecipes shares three tips for making bread pudding in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 2 cups Kabocha pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/4" cubes
- 3 sprigs thyme, stems removed and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups baguette, torn into rough pieces
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1.5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
- Add the olive oil to a frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and until fragrant. Add the Kabocha, and fry until tender. Add the thyme then salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl, whisk the cream, milk, eggs and salt to combine. Add the bread, sautéed pumpkin and parsley, and then stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9” x 9” x 2” baking dish. Add half the shredded cheese into the pumpkin and bread mixture and stir to distribute. Empty the contents of the bowl into the baking dish and spread the mixture evenly. Cover with the remaining cheese and place it in the oven.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the middle reads 155 degrees F. If the top hasn’t gotten browned and crispy, turn on the broiler and broil until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.