the proof is in the pudding. [pumpkin bread pudding w. spicy caramel apple sauce & vanilla bean creme anglaise]

December 4th, 2010 by | comments

This is undoubtedly the perfect dessert to make a significant impression on dinner guests. Although time-consuming (I spent about 6 hours total making all 4 components), the end product was absolutely delectable. I discovered this recipe when watching a Thanksgiving episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay. The moment I saw everyone’s reaction after sampling the dessert, I decided to take on the challenge of one of Bobby’s laborious recipes.

I found his five-star recipe for pumpkin bread pudding with spicy caramel apple sauce and vanilla bean creme anglaise on the Food Network website. I first made the homemade pumpkin bread, which turned out moist and rich with flavor. Next, I made the homemade caramel sauce and vanilla bean creme anglaise.

I had to improvise a bit because I did not have every ingredient in the recipe. For example, instead of using bourbon for the pudding, I used whiskey. I also did not have any star anise for the cream anglaise, so I left this ingredient out. However, I doubt I would include star anise even if I had some in my spice cabinet because I am not a fan of licorice.

Next time I make this dish, I will split the task up into two days, making the bread, caramel and creme anglaise the day before. This way, I would only have to make the pudding and bake the dish the day I want to serve the dessert.


3 cups heavy whipping cream

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

3 tbsp. pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)

1 cup Libby’s canned pumpkin puree

2 tbsp. Jack Daniel’s Whiskey

Pumpkin bread, toasted and cubed, recipe follows

Vanilla bean creme anglaise, recipe follows

Spicy caramel apple sauce, recipe follows

Freshly whipped cream, if desired


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

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″ x 13″ 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 half way up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are slightly 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, if desired. Bread pudding is best served warm.

Pumpkin bread recipe:

4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

1 3/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp. fine salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

8 oz. (scant 1 cup) Libby’s canned pumpkin puree

2 large eggs

2/3 cup water


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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 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 degree oven until lightly toasted, turning once, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

Vanilla bean creme anglaise recipe:

2 cups half and half

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

5 large egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar


Bring the half and half, vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Whisk together yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until at the pale ribbon stage. Slowly whisk in the hot half and half, return the mixture to the pot, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Strain into a bowl and set over an ice bath. Stir until chilled. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Spicy caramel apple sauce:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup apple juice

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

4 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar


Combine cream, apple juice, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain mixture into a clean, small saucepan and place back over low heat while making 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. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. The sauce can be made 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over low heat before serving, if desired.

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