This fantastic dessert is perfect for the cool months of late fall and winter. Cubes of tender pumpkin bread are baked in a rich custard laced with bourbon and maple syrup. Crisp apple cider is the base of a buttery caramel sauce spiced with fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise. Forget about serving the same-old pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving and put this out instead for a new twist on two old classics. The recipe includes directions for making your own pumpkin bread to use in the pudding, but you can of course also use a loaf of pumpkin bread from your favorite bakery. Brioche or cinnamon-raisin bread would also work perfectly.

Serves 8

Unsalted butter, for the pan
8 cups 11/2-inch cubed Pumpkin Bread or other bread
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup canned pumpkin puree, not flavored pie filling
2 tablespoons bourbon
Freshly whipped cream, for serving
Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce
Shelled pumpkin seeds (optional), for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter a 10-inch glass baking dish.

2. Spread the bread cubes on a large baking sheet and bake in the oven, turning once, until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

3. Combine the cream, milk, and vanilla bean and seeds in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

4. Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined. Discard the vanilla bean and whisk in the bourbon.

5. Scatter the pumpkin bread cubes in the prepared 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.

6. Place the dish in a larger roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan until it comes halfway 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 the water bath and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

7. Serve the warm bread pudding topped with whipped cream and drizzled with spicy caramel apple sauce. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds if desired.

Excerpted from Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson Copyright © 2011 by Boy Meets Grill, Inc. Photographs Copyright © 2011 by Ben Fink. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.


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