Bread pudding is always a good choice when you’re in need of a comforting dessert. The custard-based pudding is rich in texture and flavor – and the fact that it can be served warm always seems to add another layer of indulgence to each serving. There is no time of year that calls for comfort food more than the fall and winter holiday seasons, and that means that this Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Bread Pudding is a perfect option for dessert during that time of year.
The bread pudding is made with pumpkin puree and a generous amount of pumpkin spice. Pumpkin spice, or pumpkin pie spice, is a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger that is typically included in pumpkin pies and other pumpkin desserts. You have undoubtedly had it in a pumpkin spice latte, even if you weren’t familiar with the individual spices that went into the mix in the first place! The spices add a delicious warmth to the natural sweetness of pumpkin puree, which is further enhanced in this dessert with brown sugar and vanilla.
Bread puddings are usually soft and custardy, without much texture of their own. In this recipe, I add in a generous amount of toasted pecans. The flavor of the pecans works beautifully with the pumpkin spice elements, as well as adding a nice crunch to each serving of bread pudding. Toasted pecans will give you the best results in this recipe, as they will hold up to the custard without loosing their texture. Feel free to use pecans that are both roasted and salted if you like a little extra salty-sweetness in your desserts (I do!). I like to toss a few extra on top for garnish, to hint at the flavors that are inside the bread pudding.
This recipe makes a generous batch of bread pudding and you might not have a large enough gathering to serve it all at once. Fortunately, bread pudding keeps very well and the leftovers are just as delicious as the freshly baked dessert. If you do have leftovers, store them in the fridge. You can serve them cold or reheat individual portions in the microwave for a few minutes before serving.
Pumpkin Spice and Pecan Bread Pudding
2 3/4 cups milk (pref. whole)
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (1-15 oz can)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
9-10 cups cubed bread (pref. white bread or brioche)
1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans
topping: 2 tbsp sugar + 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice until very smooth.
Place cubed bread in a large bowl, and pour pumpkin mixture over the top. Use a spatula to gently fold the bread cubes until they are well coated. Allow bread mixture to stand for 20 minutes to soak up the custard mixture.
Pour bread custard mixture into prepared pan and spread it into an even layer. Combine sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the bread pudding.
Bake for 40 minutes, until the pudding springs back when lightly pressed and a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Leftovers should be cooled completely and stored in the refrigerator.