One last treat from our gathering with Jenni Kayne in preparation for Thanksgiving: this incredible, spiced bread pudding from chef Pamela Salzman. Packed with pumpkin and antioxidant-rich spices that just scream November, this dessert might just become our new Thanksgiving tradition.

Can’t bear the thought of foregoing pumpkin pie itself? Create an entire dessert table for this holiday with options for everybody! Include pumpkin pie (Cafe Gratitude has a few great vegan options available this month!) the vegan praline pie from Jenni’s gathering last year, and these incredible stuffed apples. Serve up some sparkling cider, more wine, or fresh coffee to get your friends and family cozied up and chatting throughout the afternoon…


Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Apple-Caramel Sauce
serves 10-12


For the pumpkin bread:
1½ cups whole-wheat pastry or white whole-wheat flour
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp aluminum-free baking soda
¾ tsp aluminum-free baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¾ cup pure maple syrup
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) or half a 15-ounce can
1/3 cup melted butter or coconut oil
2 large eggs
¼ cup milk or water or almond milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup currants

For the custard:
3 ½ cups half-and-half
¾ cup pure maple syrup
5 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp bourbon (or dark rum)
1 ½ tsp cinnamon

For the apple-caramel sauce (adapted from Bobby Flay):
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup unsweetened 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 ½ cups granulated sugar, preferably organic
½ cup water
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Calvados (apple brandy) or apple schnapps


For the bread pudding:
1. To make the pumpkin bread, preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9X5 loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Whisk all the dry ingredients (except currants) in a large mixing bowl. Blend all of the wet ingredients in a blender. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (do not overmix). Stir in currants. Pour into loaf pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, approximately 1 hour. Allow to cool completely.

2. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and dry out a little on a baking sheet overnight or toast in a 325 degree oven, turning once, for 30 minutes. Let cool before proceeding. (You can do this the day before.)

3. In a medium saucepan, mix the half-and-half and maple syrup and bring to just a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

4. Whisk together the eggs, vanilla and bourbon until foamy. Slowly whisk in half-and-half mixture until thoroughly blended.

5. To assemble the bread pudding, place the dried out pumpkin bread cubes in the bottom of a 9X13 inch baking dish. Pour the custard mixture into the dish evenly. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes so that the bread can soak up the custard. Sprinkle the cinnamon over the top of the bread pudding.

6. Place the baking dish in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake in the center of a 350-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until the custard is set around the edges yet still slightly soft toward the center. Remove the gratin dish from the water as soon as it’s taken from the oven.

7. Serve warm with apple-caramel sauce.

For the apple-caramel sauce (adapted from Bobby Flay):
1. Combine the cream, apple juice, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.

2. Cover and 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.

3. 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 Calvados and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.

This sauce can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over low heat before serving.


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