I was browsing food blogs last week when I came across this post from Ping's Pickings with a recipe for a really soft Asian-bakery style bread. I was also intrigued because it's made with what is basically a pastry cream base, and her photos reminded me of the loaves of super rich, super soft bread I get at Boloniya (a Japanese bakery). Well, I think I may be in need of some new yeast, because my bread came out surprisingly dense!
I made a couple of mini loaves, and although the texture is nice and fine grained, it is almost like dense sandwich bread, instead of the soft bread that I was hoping for (the kind I buy just pulls apart into long bread "ribbons", if that makes any sense). I'm going to have to give it another try with some new yeast, and maybe a longer rising time because it would be awesome to be able to make this type of bread at home.
But of course, I'm not just going to let bread go to waste, right? And hey, this bread was just perfect for bread pudding! And since I had half a can of pumpkin left in the fridge (from the muffins I made last time), it made sense to go with an autumn-themed pumpkin bread pudding. This baked up nicely, almost caramelized along the bottom, crunchy on top, and custardy in the center, with little pockets of hot sugary ginger throughout. Have some bread to use up? Try this.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
approximately 4 cups of bread cubes (3/4")
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg until smooth. Fold in raisins, ginger, and bread cubes, and let stand for 20-30 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Pack into buttered baking dish(es) (either an 8" square, or custard cups, or individual bakers, or whatever you feel like) and bake until an inserted knife comes out clean. I baked mine in two individual bakers and a mini loaf pan and it took about 30 minutes. Eat warm or hot. It would be great with a little maple syrup...or there's always ice cream!