Indifference (In Regards to Bread Pudding)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

-Pumpkin bread pudding with shaved chocolate is definitely one of the better things in life.-

"... and later tonight I plan to make bread pudding."

"Oh," he said.

"What?" I replied, already depressed at the answer I knew was coming.

"Nothing. Just, you know, bread pudding," he said while shrugging his shoulders.

This was the general reaction I had received throughout the day. As I traded weekend plans with friends and co-workers I would eventually get to the part where I would say that part of my Saturday schedule was to bake up a thick n' custardy bread pudding. Mind you, not just any bread pudding, pumpkin bread pudding with shaved chocolate.

Normally, my cooking plans get a bit more reaction than a stone-faced, "Oh, bread pudding." People had more to say about the fact that I also planned to mop my floors, sympathizing with me over the labor of it or launching into a humorous anecdote which surprised me as mopping is the last thing I would suspect someone would have a humorous anecdote for.

This isn't to say the reaction was negative, but it wasn't exactly positive either. No one professing their adoration for custard soaked chunks of bread, studded with raisins and cinnamon. Not a peep about eating a plate of it cold for breakfast with a dollop of whipped cream. At the same time no one told me stories of how their grandmother piled mounds of bread mush so sickeningly sweet it was no wonder dad was diabetic.

*sigh* All I got was indifference.

And here's the thing about indifference. It is, in my opinion, worse than hate. If you hate something that means it at least preoccupies a place in your consciousness. You are willing to point out your dislike openly. It has enough presence to rate somewhere in your life. If you're indifferent to a person, place or thing then that means it's moot. It doesn't have the importance to even register.

Simply put, you don't give a crap one way or the other.

This seems like a cruel attitude to have towards something as rich and homey as bread pudding. Personally, I get a little bit excited over it. How many desserts require so little work? What else encourages you to use up extra stale bread, cream on the precipice of spoilage, or that lone egg that's just sitting around? How many desserts have such an aura of hospitality and whose simple components effuse such a charming comportment?

This bread pudding's use of pumpkin and spices make it reminiscent of your favorite pumpkin desserts (indeed, you may forgo your favorite pumpkin pie recipe in lieu of this). The shaved chocolate adds a bittersweet tinge to the dish that makes it all the more irresistible. Simple prep, a mere rendezvous in the kitchen, and this slightly stylish dessert is turned out. And, I promise, every response you get will be "Oh! Bread pudding!" said through the biggest of smiles.

-As tempted as you might be to lick chocolate off a rasp, don't.-

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet

1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of shaved chocolate
5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Melt the butter.

2. Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, spices, extract, and shaved chocolate in a bowl.

3. Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8 or 9-inch square baking dish, shave with a little bit more chocolate if desired (who wouldn't?). Bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.
-If you're honestly indifferent to this then you must be a robot sent out to kill all humans. You monster.-


  1. I love bread pudding- tome it is the quintessential fall comfort food. Your version sounds so sophisticated!

  2. You would never get an indifferent response from me in regard to bread pudding. It's one of my favorite desserts and has been since childhood. Perhaps it's the duality of breakfast/dessert, I'm not sure, but I love it (same goes for rice pudding too). So bravo! I'll be making this up soon ... even if I have to eat it all myself.

  3. I may be a robot... bread pudding doesn't excite me. I've never tried it, but I've never had any desire to try it either. It's just not something that reaches out and grabs my attention.

    In general, I'm not a pudding person at all. Maybe that's the problem.

    Or maybe that when I see cream and eggs I think Creme Brulee! and stop reading the ingredient list altogether. Why ruin perfectly good creme brulee with something like bread? I'll eat creme brulee and toss the crumbs at the ducks.

  4. You should have called my husband and told him--he adores it and when I tell him I am making it he is always cheery. He still talks about a bread pudding I made 2 yrs ago.

  5. Garrett you are my hero. Bread Pudding and Pumpkin are two of my most favorite things and putting them together is the perfect way to get in an Autumny kind of mood. I'm off to the store!

  6. What kind of soul-less cretins are you hanging with anyway?

    Bread pudding is one of life's true pleasures. Decadence and innocence in one.

    Their loss.

  7. I wholly intend to try this recipe on family and friends for the holidays and hopefully sooner. I don't care much for pumpkin pie but I love it in other desserts...cookies, panna cotta. Thank you for giving me a new one..I'm sure it will be met with a lot of love :)

  8. I can so relate to how you feel about your coworker's attitude. How disappointing. I, however, am adequately impressed with the dish you made. I adore bread pudding and the addition of pumpkin and chocolate... gasp! I'm bookmarking this one.

  9. An indifferent person means... one less person to share my bread pudding with. His loss. And it's still my pleasure. LOL

  10. Aw, Garrett. I would definitely not given you an indifferent response if you had announced such plans in my presence! Bread pudding? Yes! Pumpkin bread pudding? Marry me.

  11. My husband has always responded indifferently to bread pudding. And while I try to comfort myself that I will then get to eat it all myself, I do think people that are indifferent to such a delightful dessert have something terribly wrong with them

  12. You have given me this year's potluck dish for thanksgiving at the in-laws. THANK YOU x1000 Garrett!

  13. I grew up with bread pudding (sometimes reheated, yes for breakfast, and dotted with thick-cut marmalade) and there is just nothing quite as divine as fresh hot custardy bread pudding. It makes me swoon! I feel sorry for those who cannot or choose not to appreciate it.
    I just made a carrot cake but I think a bread pudding will have to be in my very near future...

  14. My mother made the best bread pudding I've ever had. Believe it of not, she got the recipe from a book by Nora Ephron. It's made with condensed milk and is divine. NOBODY could be indifferent to it.

    And now you've come up with a pumpkin bread pudding. I can't wait to try it.

  15. So I'm not a HUGE bread pudding or pumpkin fan, but I know quite a few people who are pumpkin fans and this would be so good to replace the boring old pumpkin pie that is on the table EVERY year on Thanksgiving... So thank you, and even though I am not a fan of either, I can say that I am excited about making this so I will not be forced to make another pie!!!
    Btw, I take it that you liked the bread pudding, but what about everyone else? Did anyone else get any?

  16. No indifference here, bread pudding is my favorite dessert to whip up at home and order out. I love trying everyone’s different recipes.

  17. I would love to serve this at Thanksgiving as both a "new and different" and "return to traditional cooking" recipe all in one. This recipe screams comfort and Fall - two of my favorite things. It is going on my to try soon list.

  18. NikiTheo - BF and Roommate loved it. Requested more. I plan to make this for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with family. =)

  19. I think the indifference is a West Coast thing--bread pudding is more revered on the East Coast. The name doesn't help, most people think all pudding is Jello pudding. There is an Amish version of cherry bread pudding that is to die for. If I can locate the recipe, I'll send it to you.

  20. I love bread pudding too. There's an earthy home-iness about it - AND it uses up all that bread we never get around to finishing. Pumpkin bread pudding ... what a perfect way to jump into fall. And think of it this way - now you don't have to share!!

    Thanks for the great recipe Garrett! Can't wait to try it!

  21. Indifference? Toward bread pudding? How is that possible?! One of my favorite desserts (always a great way to use up some bread slightly past its prime) and this version sounds particularly awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  22. I am never, ever indifferent to bread pudding. Especially when it involves pumpkin. Triply so when it involves chocolate. Four times so when it is a cold leftover at breakfast time.

    Unfortunately, my husband isn't just indifferent to bread pudding. He. Doesn't. Like. It.

    So I will probably never have this beautiful culinary creation. *sob*

  23. I have been dreaming of bread pudding -- especially with the sweet potato and cranberry bread sitting in my bread box right now. Who knew it was so easy. Think I will absolutely have to make some now. And I dare anyone to give me an indifferent response.

  24. Garrett,

    I absolutely love the photo of the grater/chocolate!

    And the bread pudding recipe looks pretty cool too - I'll have give it a try this weekend.

    Chloe M.

  25. I ran across your blog today (I did a Google search on gelato in Sacramento and found your review of Cafe La Boca). Your writing is witty and interesting. I've never been interested in bread pudding, I don't even know anyone who has ever had/made bread pudding, but reading this post makes me want to go out and make it!

  26. I consider bread pudding pretty much better than manna from heaven, and anything pumpkin is an A in my book, so this recipe looks delicious! I think I'll make it for my birthday next month instead of cake. Yum!!

    However, I think it does need a sauce ... my family always makes a lemon sauce for bread pudding, so perhaps an orange sauce would do here, along with an touch of orange zest and/or juice in the custard.

  27. I love love love bread pudding. I order it at almost every restaurant I go to that has it on the menu.

    :) Must buy some pumpkin and make this soon!!

  28. Hi Garrett,
    I've never made bread pudding, but I think I must try. Just one question: can I use fresh pumpkin instead of canned one? Do I need to cook it before I use it?

    Thank you for your blog!


  29. Janina - Yes you can and yes cook it till soft, then puree. Personally, go with canned. Way easier for this recipe.

  30. I love bread pudding, and I love pumpkin, what a wonderful and unexpected pairing! I will definitely be making this one!

  31. Those who are indifferent don't know (or care, I assume) what they are missing. No matter, that just leaves more for the rest of us!
    Although my husband didn't grow up eating bread pudding, he's a fan. I bombard him with all manner of bread puddings, and he heartily eats up. This variation is one I haven't tried, but will very soon...anything with pumpkin or chocolate gets my vote...together they can't be ignored.
    (For breakfast, I like to warm it and top it with maple syrup.)

  32. I couldn't wait to try so I made it for dessert last night and reheated for breakfast this a.m. DELICIOUS! Looking forward to more for dessert tonight! Good thing I used skim evaporated milk in place of the cream. haha

  33. Maybe you should call it custard panade. I bet that would elicit some curiosity.

    Me? I like bread pudding. Nothing's is more comforting than creamy stodge.

  34. When I call my dad and say "I'm making bread pudding" he says "What time should I be there?"

    Nope, no indifference around here.

  35. Not to distract from the bread pudding (which in my experience is either luscious or horrific), but your photo of chocolate shavings is enchanting and dramatic and brilliant. When I started scrolling down, the vibrant texture of the chocolate just leapt off the screen at me. It was so unexpected and salivatory...I think I want some chocolate now. Excuse me.

  36. Yummy, Garrett! Last winter, I was addicted to making Pannetone Bread Pudding. Thanks for giving me this year's version.

  37. Made this for my daughters 3rd birthday. It was a hit! Tasted like Autumn in my mouth! yumm!

  38. People who shrug at bread pudding have never had good bread pudding. That is all.

  39. Bread Pudding is considered one of the two quintessential Louisiana desserts (the other would be Bananas Foster, with Pecan Pie coming in a fairly close third). It's delicious any time of day that you eat it. I started the tradition in college of making bread pudding for Christmas morning breakfast, to the great delight of my family, particularly my three nieces and nephews. Traditionally, I have eaten it with a hard sauce, but for G-rated functions I pour heavy whipping cream over the top about fifteen minutes before it's done. I have made bread pudding with everything from sandwich bread to baguettes to homemade challah (yum!), and this recipe sounds like a great new twist. Thank you for the recipe, and if you ever need some hardcore bread pudding lovers, just head south.


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