Yesterday Julia was talking about wanting to make something with me. Something to eat. I asked what she wanted to make, and she said, after a bit of thought, "pumpkin bread pie."
She also launched into a great long list of other things she'd like to make – various cakes, pies, cookies, and so forth. But this one, this first idea of hers, stuck in my head.
I thought about it for a while, and then said to her "how about pumpkin bread pudding?" and she agreed to add that to the list. But it was, in her mind, a separate thing from her original idea.
I toyed with the idea of making some sort of bread pudding in a pie shell deal, but even I, starch-addict-of-the-year, couldn't come to terms with the pie shell plus all the bread in one dish.
So I came up with this instead.
And since Julia, this morning, would rather try on all the jewelry I never wear, her vote no longer counts in the naming of this dish.
She was, however, most definitely the inspiration.
So here's what I used:
8 1/2 cups white bread cut into 3/4" cubes (I used a loaf I made a few days ago – you want a firm bread but you don't want a hard crust. Unless you trim the crust, in which case it doesn't matter.) (Oh, and you could use 8 cups. I had extra cubes so I just threw them in and that's what the measurement came to.)
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1 T vanilla
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
and for the topping:
2 T sugar
2 T sparkling sugar (the big kind that doesn't melt in the oven)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Okay, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and butter a 13 x 9" pyrex baking dish.
Stir together the two sugars and the cinnamon for the topping. Set them aside.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the top.
Let the bread pudding cool until slightly warm or room temperature.
You can refrigerate it as well and serve either cold or warmed up a bit.
Wait – I'm not done yet.
First of all, this smelled FABULOUS while it was baking. Really. It brightened my day before I even had a taste.
And we stopped, and looked at each other, eyes wide…
"This is GOOD!" Julia announced, and after that I had to fight her for the rest of what was on the plate.
Not satisfied with the puny serving I'd dished up, Julia pointed to the pan and then to her plate, suddenly struck uncharacteristically speechless.
"More?" She nodded. I dished some up and followed her into the dining room.
With my camera.
Have I told you about the impersonation she does? Probably not. It's hard to describe, and won't be nearly as funny when I describe it as it would be if you were in the room with her.
But here goes.
Julia becomes…an old man. A very old man. In fact, when she is doing her impersonation, I can see him…stooped, grumpy, and with little to no hair on that little head.
And she does this weird thing with her mouth, and shakes a finger at me, and says things like "That's GOOD EATIN', sonny!" or "Don't tell me to put on a clean shirt, woman!"
And I laugh and laugh and laugh.
And so does she, even though she tries to remain stern and crotchety.
"What are you lookin' at, sonny?"
But back to the bread pudding.