Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce

Ms. October

Every year, my childrens’ elementary school holds an auction to raise money. There’s a dinner and a dance as well as the auction where you can bid on all sorts of things. One item is the Chef of The Month. The idea is that you bid to have a different person each month make you a three course dinner for eight people. At the end of the year, the dinner voted the best of the best gets a prize. This year, I am Ms. October.

Because I love to cook and I admit to being a bit of a food snob I feel the need to make a really fabulous dinner. Did I mention I am also quite competitive? For the last month I have been pouring over my cookbooks trying to come up with something tasty that can be transported, kept warm in the oven and still be juicy and appetizing. I think I have finally come up with an appropriate harvest-themed dinner made with as many things as I can pull from my own garden to up my ante.

Fortunately, Bon Appetit magazine did a great spread on Harvest dinners for a crowd for their October issue. (Grab the issue if you can. The article that precedes the recipes is great.) I tried a few of the recipes out over the weekend, and I am going to use them.

They are: Braised Pork Shoulder with Apple Cider and Ginger Beer, Farro with Wild Mushrooms and Herbs (Really Good!), Brussels Sprouts with Maple Syrup and for Dessert, Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy caramel Apple Sauce (this one is a Bobby Flay recipe). I haven’t decided if I am going to have a salad yet. My persimmons are starting to ripen so if they are ready I might do my grandmother’s persimmon salad. We’ll see…

The recipe for Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce is below, and you can pick up the most recent Bon Appetit. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce
Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay
Yields 8 Servings

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup pure canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons bourbon
Pumpkin Bread, toasted and cubed, recipe follows
Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 325 ºF. 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 pumpkin 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 halfway up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are 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.

Spoon some of the Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise into a shallow bowl, top with some of the bread pudding and drizzle with the Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce. Top with freshly whipped cream. Bread pudding is best served warm.

Pumpkin Bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces (scant 1 cup) canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
2/3 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 4 tablespoons softened butter, sugar, and oil at high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times.

Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. At low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and water and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60 to 75 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.

Once the bread is cool, slice in half lengthwise, and then slice each half into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a large baking sheet and bake in a 325 ºF oven until lightly toasted, turning once (about 20 minutes). Allow to cool.

Spicy Caramel Apple 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 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon apple schnapps

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 apple schnapps 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.

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