Thanksgiving Special: Drunken Bread Pudding with Homemade Pumpkin Challah

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

My! Is that a pumpkinilicious bite or what?! Well, you may have guessed the reason for this pumpkin indulgence. Yes, this was the slated round 8 dish for Project Food Blog. I made this dish last Friday. As I removed the pudding from the oven, I found out that it was no longer needed!

I gobbled a generous slice to drown my disappointment, right then. After that, the world seemed sunnier and I smiled again. In the FSK household, there is nothing like not needed as far as food is concerned. All good food is welcome and will be consumed at the hastiest! :) Mr. FSK was bummed for me, but, glad I had made the pudding before the results came out. LOL.

Eggs and Milk

Of course, the post was going to make it here, anyway, contest or not. Then, I had a bright idea. What if a bunch of us, who were dreaming pumpkins for the contest but could no longer enter our creation, posted our recipes anyway, in unity?! I mean, like the Pumpkin Crusaders?! Cool, eh? Oh, yeah! Liren and I cohorted to rope in some cool bloggers and fellow contestants whose end, like ours, came too soon. :)

So, what would have been my entry? A homemade Pumpkin Challah, which, is then baked into a Drunken Bread Pudding, spiked with brandied fruits and baked in a pumpkin custard!

Now, my reasons for choosing this particular mode of delivering the pumpkin were simple. I love to bake bread at home and that was one skill I hadn't yet showcased in the contest. Plus, the challah has always been an aspiration; those braids are just too inviting.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

When I was a kid, with longer tresses, I used to braid my hair for school; two tiny braids on either side, tied with a ribbon. I love braiding; kind of therapeutic, like kneading. So, it felt right. And, the richness of the bread from the egg, makes it just perfect for the Holidays - Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas....

The recipe I used was a very simple one and I could not believe that such amazing bread could be made with so little effort! Once the bread was baked, I just couldn't stop eyeing it's simple gorgeousness; the shape and the entrancing golden crust. I almost did not want to go through with the pudding. I did not want to slice the best looking bread, I had ever baked. But, then, the show must go on! :)

Pumpkin challah

My next challenge was the pudding. Ok, I confess! I had never had much success with bread puddings before this attempt!! And, the secret to this one lies in using toasted bread and baking the pudding in a water bath, like you would a custard. In keeping with the season, I spiked the pudding with dried fruits that I had soaked in brandy for a month. Ah! the flavors they infused into the pudding - boozy, rich and dvine!

For serving, I tried many accessories; fresh fruits, chocolate mascarpone mousse and just simply dusted with sugar. In honesty, the last was the best. The pudding holds its own; no garnish needed!

Pu Bread Pudding 1

For more pumpkin ideas, check out my recipes here.

Now, I highly recommended that you go, check out what awesomeness, others have created...

Liren from Kitchen Confidante
Josie from Day Dreamer Desserts
Lindsey from Hot Polka Dot
Winnie from Healthy Green Kitchen

Drunken Pumpkin Bread Pudding
(adapted from
Joy of Baking)

2 cups of challah, diced (recipe below)
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup half and half or light cream
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 T brandied fruits (raisins, cranberries, plums)
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
1 T melted and cooled butter + another for toasting the bread

Toss the bread in a tablespoon of butter with the nutmeg, arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 375 F for about 10 minutes until toasted and golden brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the custard. Beat the egg and sugar until light colored and thick. Add the vanilla and mix in thoroughly. Add the melter butter, cream and pumpkin puree and combine to a creamy mixture.

When the bread is ready, toss it with the brandied fruits and arrange in a small loaf pan. Pour the custard mixture over the bread. Gently press the bread pieces in so they soak up some of the custard. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the larger pan with hot water rising half way up the sides of the pudding pan. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Pumpkin Challah
{adapted from A Blessing of Bread by Maggie Glezer via
My Jewish Learning}
(makes 2 loaves)

1 package active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons fresh nutmeg
3-1/4 + 1/2 cups unbleached flour
scant 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh pumpkin puree
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg + 1 egg, beaten for glaze
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal (optional)

Sprinkle yeast over warm water with a teaspoon of sugar and let stand for 10 minutes until foamy. Stir to dissolve. Meanwhile, mix 3-1/4 cups of flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture. Slowly, incorporate some of the flour into the water, just enough to form a soft paste. There will be quite a bit of dry flour around the edges Cover bowl with a towel and leave until frothy and risen, about 20 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, pumpkin puree, oil and egg. Add to the risen flour mixture and combine thoroughly. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until the dough is pliable. The dough will be wet. Add the reserved 1/2 cup of flour a little at a time till you get a smooth, tacky dough.

Let the dough rest for a few minutes and then transfer to a lightly bowl. Brush the top of the dough with a little oil, cover with a towel and let it rise in a warm place till it triples in volume, about 1-1/2 hours. Punch down dough, knead it lightly, and cut it into two equal pieces. Cut each of the two pieces into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a straight rope. Braid three ropes together and repeat to get two braided loaves.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle a little corn meal/semolina. Place loaves on the sheets, cover with towel and let rise until doubled in size. Glaze loaves with beaten egg reserved for glaze. Bake at 350 F for about 17-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool on rack and let it come to room temperature before slicing it.

I am sending this bread to our friendly Yeastspotting Susan! :)