How to be a rockstar 101: pumpkin + bourbon

jen's splash

RECIPE: Pumpkin bourbon bread pudding

My grandfather used to say, “There are two types of people in this world. Those who like me, and those who want to be like me.”

If you make this recipe, that will certainly be true.

It starts, like so many good recipes, with pumpkin. (And you thought I was done with pumpkin? Never.)

Ken’s BFF, David, and his lovely wife Karen–the ones who made those strong cocktails on the river–are part of a DIY beverage community. They brew cider. Beer. Wine. Brandy. Infused alcohol: apple and rosemary. Generally the friends you want to have around.

The beverage-ers are an interesting crew. They have lengthy conversations about yeast. And talk about fruit in pound references. “So I just grabbed about 40 pounds of apples … ” Currently on tap in David’s garage? Peach wine.

So David and Karen had a small potluck gathering, mostly this alcohol-associated group. Folks brought samples from basement collections and offered tastings. Ken, being the BFF, was invited, too. I tagged along. We brought dessert.

Something alcohol-related, of course. Even if we didn’t brew our own.

We were inspired by a recent  ‘special’ we saw on the chalkboard at a local lounge. Pumpkin bread pudding. “We’re totally ordering that,” I declared. Except that they were out. Boo.

No worries. Make our own. Gourmet Mag via Smitten Kitchen to the rescue. With alterations. Organic sesame challah bread. More pumpkin and custard. Less sugar. Less bread. More bourbon.

Add some homemade whipped cream with vanilla and, ya, bourbon.

Honestly? I never received such an enthusiastic response from a dish. Compliments filling the kitchen. Lots of moaning over forkfuls. Second helpings. Asks for copies of the recipe.

Sure, it could be because they’re generally nice people. And that they’d been drinking alcohol all evening. I prefer to think it’s because, much like my grandfather’s sentiment, I rock.

Rating: 5 of 5 glasses of homemade brandy. And is there a rating for the ‘best recipe I’ve made yet?’ If so, this takes the cake. Or custard.

Pumpkin bourbon bread pudding
Author: Jen, thanks to Smitten Kitchen and Gourmet Magazine
  • 2 cups milk (I used 1%, it called for whole)
  • 1 can organic pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus 1 yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 4-5 cups cubed (1-inch) bread. I used sesame challah. Recipe called for day-old baguette. I’d also love to try a rustic wheat, too.
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • Whipped cream ingredients:
  • 1 pint container whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (powdered sugar is best for dessert, and when the whipped cream may be sitting out for awhile)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
  2. Whisk together pumpkin, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, spices and bourbon, in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, toss bread cubes with melted butter.
  4. Add pumpkin mixture to bread mixture and toss to coat. Be careful not to mash the bread and make it a soggy mess. (The bread should be well coated, with a little liquidy part in the mixture. If the bread soaks it all up and there’s no liquid? Add more milk to your mixture.)
  5. Transfer to a greased 8-inch baking dish and bake until custard is set, 35-45 minutes.
  6. For whipped cream: It’s advised that you use a metal bowl (I didn’t) and that everything is chilled before hand: bowl, whisk/mixer, cream. Put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Pour cream in a bowl and mix until peaks form. Add sugar, vanilla and bourbon. Beat again until peaks form. Too much mixing will look buttery.
  7. Share the warm pudding with cool cream, and enjoy your rockstar status!


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7 Responses to How to be a rockstar 101: pumpkin + bourbon

  1. Jim Tolar says:

    See, this is what it’s supposed to be about, making *up* your own recipes. I’m intimidated and envious. I may try this as a Thanksgiving dessert. Well done.


  2. Ken says:

    It was truly amazing. And I don’t use that word very often. And relatively easy to make. Key was the bourbon (even for someone like me that doesn’t like whiskey) and that Jen made it more custardy than the original recipe called for.

  3. Stacey Crowley says:

    It was lick-a-licious! I’m so making this tonight! THanks for passing on your beautiful work!

  4. Hey Jen, how was this on the second day? I’m thinking of bringing it for T-day, but will need to make it the day before as we work on T-day. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jen says:

      Hi Alyssa! So there wasn’t much left the next day when I made this. But I wonder about making it the day before and keeping it in your fridge. Then you can bake it the day of. Thoughts? Regardless, happy Thanksgiving! :)

  5. Jacquie Smiley says:

    So freakin’ good…it was a hit on Thanksgiving and day-after party as well. I did mix it up ahead of time (thanksgiving morning) and then baked it later (as soon as the turkey came out). It turned out delicious. I used a challah bread, with perfect results! thanks for the great recipe – it will be a new tradition I think!

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