Home » XXX Pumpkin Bread Pudding (definitely better than Jeannette’s Pies)

XXX Pumpkin Bread Pudding (definitely better than Jeannette’s Pies)

Growing up, our happily blended family was blessed with a bevy of doting great aunts and grandmothers.  Between us, my brothers and I enjoyed the attentions of 4 grandmothers and 2 maiden aunts, all in their 70s by the time we left elementary school.

Sadly, the only one that could cook a lick among the flock—Grammy Walsh–died young, at 66. The other old ladies had their reasons for not cooking. Granny Hagan (Jeannette) and Gran-Gran Rogers were fortunate to have had domestic staff that cooked for their families, and Aunts Peg and Gladys never had families to cook for.  Aunt Peg could at least season a chicken breast with salt and pepper and put it in the oven, but go to Aunt Gladys’ for dinner and you would likely be served a bowl of Special K floating in cranberry juice.  Real story, bro.

The Pegster with, from left, Aunt Gladys, Granny Hagan, and Aunt Peg, mid 1980s.

This meant that every holiday all of the meal preparations and hosting duties for the extended family fell to my sweet mother.  The rest of “the oldsters,” as we referred to them, lived into their late 80s and 90s, which meant that the Pegster enjoyed about 30 years of dragging the leaves in and out of the dining room table and preparing holiday feasts for no fewer than a dozen hungry pilgrims.

One Thanksgiving, my Granny Hagan (who had long since lost the cook my Grandfather’s position provided) offered to bring the pies to the holiday feast. My mother consulted Aunt Peg and me. “What should I do? I’m not sure Granny Hagan knows how to bake a pie!”

“Please don’t let her!” I begged. “Dessert is my favorite part of Thanksgiving. She’ll bring something like mincemeat!”

Aunt Peg shook her head. “Oh, lands,” she sighed. “I’ve had Jeannette’s pies.”

In the end, my mother decided it would be insulting not to let Granny Hagan bring her pies to Thanksgiving.  And much to everyone’s surprise, Granny arrived with 2 magazine-worthy pies – a pumpkin and an apple—in actual baking dishes, not Mrs. Smith’s disposable pie tins, garnished with decorative pastrywork.

“Hmm, we’ll see what they taste like,” Aunt Peg whispered to me over whisky sours and shrimp cocktail.

When the main plates were cleared, everyone was served a wedge of the pie of their choice.

“Jeannette, the pie is delicious,” proclaimed my father.  “I do love a good apple pie.”

Aunt Peg gave me the side eye.

“Oh, Jeannette, this crust!” exclaimed Aunt Gladys. “How did you get it so flaky?”

I’ll never tell,” lilted Granny Hagan, her rouged cheeks and eyes a-twinkle.

Aunt Peg put down her fork.

Peg Laird was one of the most generous souls you could ever meet, but letting my grandmother bask in accolades for pies that she had clearly purchased at the Village Inn and managed to transfer to her own pie plates was a tough nut to swallow.

When it was time to clear the plates, Aunt Peg wedged herself between my mother and me at the sink.

“I’ve HAD Jeannette’s pies!”  she spat.  “Those were NOT Jeannette’s pies.”

But in the end, she allowed my grandmother to enjoy, probably for the only time in her 80+ years on the planet, compliments on her “cooking.”

The moral of this story?  Pies are hard.  Make this pumpkin bread pudding instead.  It is out-of-this-world, and I mean X-rated good, and if I didn’t serve this each and every Thanksgiving, my family would disown me.  In fact, the day before Thanksgiving each year, I get at least one text from a niece or daughter who won’t be at our family table, begging for me to text them the recipe.

Aunt Peg died before I started making it, but I know she would agree, it is much, much better than Jeannette’s pies.

XXX Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

Recipe by Betsy OwensCourse: DessertDifficulty: Medium
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

40

minutes
Cooking time

55

minutes

This guaranteed crowd-pleaser is the perfect grand finale to your Thanksgiving meal, and a wonderful departure from plain old pumpkin pie. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
Note: If the bread is quite fresh, I cut it in cubes and let it sit out for a couple of hours so that it dries out and more easily absorbs the custard.

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. loaf slightly stale brioche or French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes. (see note, above)

  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup white sugar

  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 4 eggs

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1 1/2 cups half and half

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin

  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

  • For the caramel sauce:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

  • 1 cup light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • Whipped cream for serving, if desired.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 12 x 8 inch baking pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the dark brown sugar, white sugar, spices and salt.
  • Add the eggs and egg yolks, and whisk well. Whisk in the half & half, milk, pumpkin and vanilla.
  • Place the bread in a separate large mixing bowl. Pour custard mixture over bread, and toss gently. Allow mixture to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Spoon bread mixture into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for about 50-55 minutes, until set and no liquid is visible. Remove from oven and allow to rest.
  • While bread pudding cools slightly, make the caramel sauce.
  • Caramel Sauce
  • In a medium heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
  • When melted, add brown sugar and cream. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved.
  • Bring to a simmer, and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Cut bread pudding into squares, and top with caramel sauce and sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

4 Comments

  1. Sandy Wilson

    Sounds great Betsy-and I just loved your Aunt Peg!

  2. Yummo! My mouth is watering. Happy Thanksgiving, Betsy!

  3. I’ve been waiting for this – sounds amazing. I can’t wait to make it for Thanksgiving. XOXO

  4. Cute story and the recipe looks great – will try it!

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