"... 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.
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.