Pumpkin Caramel Bread Pudding


The holiday season is right around the corner. For the past few years I have struggled to find the holiday spirit, but this year I seem to have it in an abundance. The feeling brings a comfort and ease, allowing the stresses of everyday life to fade into the background. Perhaps it is the excitement of having a new home to fill with lights and cheer, but I am grateful to have holiday baking and decorating ranking high on my priority list. 

As with most holiday family gatherings, bringing the dessert falls on my shoulders (and I am only happy to oblige). While classic pies—pumpkin, apple, and chocolate cream—are a Thanksgiving tradition, I also enjoy introducing a new dessert alongside the standard selection. In past years, the flavor combinations of chocolate and ginger and pumpkin and espresso have made appearances. For this Thanksgiving, I am planning for the flavors of pumpkin and caramel to join together with rum and raisin in this bread pudding recipe.


I first made a batch of pumpkin bread pudding seven years ago while I was living in Montreal for graduate school. A large group of us gathered in the living room of a small, one-bedroom apartment, far-flung from our families and homes, to celebrate Thanksgiving together. The meal may have been cobbled together (and each other's faces new and unfamiliar), but we enjoyed each other's company and left with full stomachs. 

The recipe I used back then was quite fussy. While it was delicious, it had too many steps and special techniques to make it approachable for a busy holiday season. For this version of pumpkin caramel bread pudding, I took the same ideas—pumpkin, caramel, and rum raisins—but simplified the recipe to a few steps without losing any of the classic flavors. 


This Pumpkin Caramel Bread Pudding is a decadent, seasonal dish to share. Brioche bread cubes are layered with rum-soaked raisins, and set into a rich, pumpkin based custard. Caramel sauce is drizzled over the top just before serving. The preparation of this bread pudding allows for some flexibility—prepare it the night before and bake the next morning, or bake it the evening before and reheat before serving. Whether for brunch or dessert, the bread pudding will be a crowd pleaser.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Gingersnap Tart
Two Years Ago: Rosemary Olive Bread & Pear Spiced Sangria
Three Years Ago: Pumpkin Pie (Dairy-Free) & Glaze Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
Four Years Ago:  Gingerbread Pear Bundt Cake & Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Espresso Bars, Maple Roasted Chickpeas, & Gingerbread Muffins
Six Years Ago: Banana Chocolate Muffins, Cranberry Orange Brioche, Cranberry Sauce, & Cranberry White Chocolate Tarts
Seven Years Ago: S'mores Cupcakes, Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme, & Sugar-Coated Daydreams

Pumpkin Caramel Bread Pudding

Yields 10 to 12 servings

1/4 cup (60 mL) dark rum
1 cup (120 grams) raisins
2 cups (475 mL) half and half
1 cup (237 mL)  whole milk
15 oz. (1 1/2 cups or grams) pumpkin puree
6 large eggs
1/3 cup (105 grams) maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 loaf of brioche or challah bread (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch cubes
Caramel sauce, for drizzling

In a small saucepan, place the rum and raisins over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat when warm. Cover and let the raisins soak for 20 minutes. Set aside.

In a blender, blend together the half and half, whole milk, pumpkin, eggs, maple syrup, spices, vanilla, and salt until uniform. Set aside.

In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, spread half of the cubed bread over the bottom. Sprinkle half of the rum raisins evenly over the top. Repeat with remaining bread and raisins. Pour the pumpkin custard mixture (and remaining rum from the raisins) evenly over the brioche. Allow it to sit until the brioche has completely absorbed the custard, about 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Bake the bread pudding, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it is puffed and set. If the bread browns quickly, cover the pan with tinfoil to prevent further browning while it finishes baking. Let cool slightly and drizzle with caramel sauce. Serve warm.

To prepare ahead of time, cover and refrigerate the baked bread pudding overnight. Then, cover with aluminum foil and rewarm in a 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Bananas Foster Sauce

Brunch has become the way I do weekend lunch. For a girl with an early morning schedule, I would never survive the wait until actual brunch time to enjoy a towering plate of French toast. Instead, I eat when I rise and wait until the crowds have cleared around noon before reaching for the maple syrup.

On days when I don't want to change out of my pajamas, the challenge is to whip up something equally delicious and simple in my own kitchen. This is where caramelized bananas enter the picture. After learning about bananas fostera dessert featuring warm caramelized bananas in a rum caramel sauce poured over vanilla ice creamI knew there had to be a way to bring this idea to brunch. I removed the ice cream and replaced it with your typical breakfast fare. Is it a little decadent? Sure. But that's why we do brunch.

As a long time non-stick cookware user (a trait I inherited from my mother), I was excited, but a little skeptical, when  Wolf Gourmet asked me to review its stainless steel and aluminum 10-Piece Cookware Set. Even though I associate the company with high quality, my only stainless steel cooking experience involved ruining my roommate's flimsy pan after trying (and failing) to fry an egg during my college years.

After a month of use, I can say with certainty that the pans have held up beautifully. The pans do well with deglazing after frying meat and vegetables to create sauces. With a seven-ply construction, the heavy pans heated food evenly, which felt reminiscent of cast iron. However, I was even more impressed with how it did with tasks for which I would normally use non-stick cookware. In the pursuit of brunch, I made crepes. I ran a light layer of olive oil around the pan, poured in the batter, and crossed my fingers that they would not stick. The crepes did not, but even more remarkable is that I didn't have to add more oil for the remainder of the batch. The layer of oil stayed in place and the crepes came out smoothly every time. I know I can't do that with my non-stick cookware.

And lastlyfor the purpose of honest disclosureafter I spectacularly burned my first batch of bananas foster sauce to a charred black ash due to inattention, the pan recovered to looking brand new with a soak in warm water. The high heat of the runaway caramel did not harm the pan. However, I did notice the bottom of one pan had minor discoloration after a few weeks, but it was nothing a little baking soda scrub couldn't cure.

Ultimately, high quality makes all the difference with stainless steel cookware. After my own personal use, I would recommend Wolf Gourmet. I would like to offer one Pastry Affair reader the opportunity to try the 10-inch skillet out in your own kitchen.

Edit: Giveaway is closed.

Bananas Foster is a warm sauce to be poured over sweet dishes and desserts. Bananas are caramelized with brown sugar and butter. With the warmth of cinnamon and the spice of rum, the sauce is elevated to another level. Though the traditional dessert featured the sauce poured over vanilla ice cream, the sauce is as lovely served over waffles, French toast (made with challah), or crepes.

One Year Ago: Banana Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes
Two Years Ago: Orange Coconut Pull-Apart Bread and Coconut Macaroons
Three Years Ago: Coconut Whipped Cream, Chocolate Ginger Biscotti, Banana Cinnamon Pancakes, Raspberry Lemon Cupcakes, and Pita Bread
Four Years Ago: Tropical Banana Bread, Strawberry Balsamic Jam, Strawberry Honey Oatmeal Bars, Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart, Arborio Rice Pudding, Chocolate Whoppie Pies, and Hot Cross Buns
Five Years Ago: Vanilla Almond Cupcakes, Banana Pudding, Devil's Food Cake, Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies, Orange Scones, and Honey Rolls

Bananas Foster Sauce

Yields about 1 cup of sauce

1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 medium ripe, firm bananas, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons dark rum

In a heavy skillet, melt the brown sugar and butter over medium heat.  Add the cinnamon and salt.  Stir and bring sauce to a simmer. Add banana slices and cook, turning once, until soft, about 2-3 minutes per side. 

Gently stir in the the rum; take care not to break apart the banana slices. To flambé, use a long lighter to ignite the vapor above the sauce. Let the flames burn until they go out on their own, about 30 seconds. However, the sauce can be served without flame and does not need to be flambéd if you are uncomfortable with the process.

Serve immediately over vanilla ice cream, French toast, or waffles.

Disclosure: A complimentary 10-Piece Cookware Set was provided for review by Wolf Gourmet. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Caramel Apple Crumble Pie

The days have been blurring together, an amalgam of daily commutes, hastily pieced together dinners, and the bright glow of the television screen. Each day feels the same in color and energy as the one that came before it. This routine, exciting once, grows monotonous. While the familiarity may be comfortable, the pattern feels stagnant and tired.

After weeks of this repetition, I needed variety, a fresh feeling and a new experience. So I took it upon myself to make a change. I joined a hot yoga studio. I signed up for glass blowing classes. I announced to my boyfriend that we were going to go for a walk.

Sometimes I forget I have the power to change my everyday. 

Baking is one of the activities I do to keep life interesting. As a recipe developer, I rarely come back to the same recipes once they are complete, trying to invent new takes on old favorites instead. The dessert table becomes an ever evolving area of flavors and textures. This Caramel Apple Crumble Pie was born from a combination of two of my favorite fall desserts: apple crisp and apple pie

While there will be a few failures now and then, when the recipe comes together as easily as this recipe did, it turns out right.


Caramel Apple Crumble Pie brings together spiced apples, flaky pastry, and a crisp oatmeal crumble. Drizzled in warm caramel, the dessert becomes a play on autumn flavors and textures. Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy alongside friends and family.

One Year Ago: Maple Syrup Cake with Toasted Almonds
Two Years Ago: Butternut Squash Biscuits, Apple Crisp, and Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts
Three Years Ago: Pear Crisp, Pumpkin Rolls, Butternut Squash Cake, and Filled Molasses Cookies
Four Years Ago: Applesauce, Caramel Apple Cider, Honey Cinnamon Chickpeas, and Caramel Apple Tart
Five Years Ago: Apple Chips, Apple Cider, Ginger Pear Cake, Fig & Balsamic Jam, and Pumpkin Oatmeal

Caramel Apple Crumble Pie

Yields 8-10 servings

Apple Pie Filling
Single Pie Crust Recipe, chilled
3 lbs (1.4 kg) apples, peeled, cored, & sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon boiled cider (optional)

Crumble Topping
1/4 cup (57 grams) butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (66 grams) brown sugar
2/3 cup (60 grams) old fashioned oats
1/3 cup (40 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Milk, for brushing
1/2 cup (280 grams) caramel sauce*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

For the apple filling, in a medium bowl, coat the apple slices with lemon juice to prevent browning. Add the brown sugar, flour, spices, salt and boiled cider and toss over the apples until they are evenly coated. Set aside.

For the crumble topping, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light. Stir in the oats, flour, spices, and salt until uniform. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough round into a 12-inch circle. Place the round into a 9-inch pie plate (or tart pan), folding the edges under and pressing into a decorative pattern. Place the prepared apples into the pie round, mounding them in the center. Break off small pieces of the crumble topping and sprinkle uniformly over the top.

Brush the exposed edges of the pie dough with milk to help them brown. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the crumble and crust are golden brown. If the edges begin to darken too quickly, cover with aluminum foil to prevent additional browning.

Cool the pie for at least 3 hours before slicing to allow the juices to set. Drizzle each slice with 1-2 tablespoons of warm caramel sauce before serving.

*To create a vegan version of the pie, use a dairy-free margarine for the butter in the crust and crumble (I prefer Earth Balance Vegan Butter), almond or soy milk for brushing, and a recipe for vegan caramel sauce.