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Holiday Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Servings: 12
What a nice change for your Thanksgiving dessert, a Pumpkin Bread Pudding instead of the usual Pumpkin Pie. You may use either raisins or chopped dates in this recipe, adding a lovely sweet texture to the pudding.

See variation below for making the bread pudding in a freshly cooked pumpkin, a very festive addition to your holiday table.

Half of a 1 pound loaf unsliced challah, brioche or other egg bread
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick/1 oz./28g) butter or margarine
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups half-and-half (or 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup cream)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins (or 1/2 cup chopped dates)
Boiling water

Serve with:
Sweetened whipped cream

1. Cut bread into 1-inch thick slices. Toast bread slices. In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat. Brush one side of each bread slice with butter. Cut buttered bread into 1-inch cubes and place in greased 1 1/2 quart casserole or baking dish.

2. In same saucepan, with wire whisk, combine evaporated milk, half-and-half, sugar, and pumpkin until smooth. Heat over low heat until bubbles appear around side of pan. Remove from heat.

3. In medium-size bowl, lightly whisk eggs with ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt until well mixed; beat in about a cup of pumpkin mixture. Pour egg mixture into remaining pumpkin mixture and mix well. Pour pumpkin-egg mixture over bread and let stand until bread absorbs most of the liquid, about 15 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Fold raisins (or chopped dates, if using) into bread pudding until well mixed. Place casserole in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Pour 1 inch of boiling water into pan (this is called a "water bath").

5. Bake bread pudding (in it's water bath) for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until firm around edge of casserole but soft set in center. Cool pudding on wire rack at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve pudding warm or cool to room temperature with sweetened whipped cream. Store pudding in the refrigerator.

To bake this recipe in a pumpkin, cut top off a 5 to 6 pound pumpkin and remove seeds and fibers. Cut decorative edge on top of pumpkin, if desired. Place pumpkin in 9-inch-square baking pan. Bake pumpkin 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare bread pudding mixture and pour into partially baked pumpkin. Bake 1 hour and 30 minutes longer or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Makes 12 servings.

Source: Recipe adapted from Country Living Magazine, September 1993

Date: October 8, 2006