Pumpkin Cornbread Pudding

October 28, 2011

For the last few weeks, I’ve been drooling over all the baked pumpkin and squash recipes popping up all over the blogternet and I’ve been scheming to make them all. Make all the pumpkin pies! All the pumpkin doughnuts! All the muffins! Hurrah! You’ll notice, however, there has been not one pumpkin, or winter squash, recipe featured on this blog, at least since last fall/winter. It surprised the heck out of me, honestly, because not only have I been fantasizing about winter produce for dessert, but I’ve also been buying and eating the stuff. I buy squash, find a recipe two seconds later, and then all of sudden I’m eating it for dinner, lunch, breakfast, leftovers, you name it. Winter produce doesn’t last long enough in my house to make its way into dessert, apparently.

I keep getting stuck on the fact that none of my winter squash pursuits involve dessert. Who am I? I didn’t think I was the kind of person who’d buy a butternut squash just to put it in a galette, or the kind of person who would seek out acorn squash because I’d just found a really intriguing dinner recipe. When did it happen that I see dinner and dessert as equals, taking as much care to make a good meal as a good dessert? I’m starting to have as much fun cooking as I do baking, and starting to enjoy savory food as much as sweet food. It’s news to me, but not bad news. You know, I was always scared that getting older would mean I’d find things less interesting, but it’s turning out to be quite the opposite!

Now, on to today’s recipe for pumpkin cornbread pudding! To accompany dinner the other night, I threw together some crazy delicious cornbread for dippies (yes, I’m five years old). Sure enough, I had more than half of the cornbread lying around a few days later, along with just a tiny bit of pumpkin puree used a day or two before, and got it into my head that I’d make cornbread pumpkin bread pudding. I’d be using up stale cornbread AND eating pumpkin for dessert! After doing a little research, I found very few cornbread pudding recipes using cornbread cubes, and virtually no scaled-down recipes for such a dessert. The goal of today’s recipe was to create a breading pudding for two, using cornbread instead of white bread. I did some tinkering, and enjoyed the pudding, but there are a few things I would do differently next time. For instance, even though the cornbread cubes were super stale, they still baked together, making it more Indian pudding than bread. I also found that it wasn’t as sweet as I thought, making it super easy to adapt the recipe for savory cornbread pudding. Take a peek at the recipe notes for details, and if you have any ideas for improving the recipe, let me know!! I’d love any and all suggestions!

Pumpkin Cornbread Pudding

(Recipe adapted from Dessert for Two, originally “Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce”)

Yields enough for 3 to 4 people

Notes: If your cornbread isn’t terribly stale, you can leave cubes out overnight or bake, sspread evenly on a baking sheet, in a 200 degree F oven for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring cubes halfway through baking time. You could also add nuts or raisins to bread pudding by sprinkling about ¼ cup of either (or both?!) over custard and bread cubes before baking. I found the final product to be really eggy, tasting more like a slightly sweetened breakfast treat than dessert, even with the syrup. The next time I make this, I’ll probably use one egg instead of two, and decrease the amount of milk by a ¼ cup, using 1 ¼ cups milk total. This will probably mean decreasing the baking time, too.

Ingredients:

3 cups cornbread cubes, between ½ and 1 inch, stale

2 eggs

1 ½ cups milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons honey

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

Butter for greasing pan

Method:

1. Butter a baking pan with a 3-cup capacity, in this case I used a 6-inch round cake pan. Place cornbread cubes in greased baking pan, making sure to spread them evenly.

2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, honey, and pumpkin puree, until smooth and completely combined.

3. Pour milk mixture over cornbread cubes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F, allowing bread pudding to soak while oven is preheating.

4. Place baking pan on a baking sheet and bake bread pudding 45 minutes to an hour, until edges are lightly browned, middle is slightly puffed, and a cake tester comes out clean.

Serve bread pudding warm, and, if storing, keep covered and refrigerated up to 2 days.

Apple Cider Syrup

(Recipe slightly adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Yields about ¾ cup syrup

Ingredients:

¼ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup apple cider

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter

Method:

1. Stir together sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir in apple cider and lemon juice.

2. Cook syrup over medium heat until mixture begins to boil, and then boil until syrup thickens.

3. Once syrup thickens, take off heat and stir in butter.

Serve syrup either warm or cold, and store syrup refrigerated, in an airtight container, up to a week.

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Contrary to my normal Breakfast Tuesday cravings, I really wanted eggs. Usually I wake up on Tuesdays and can only think about pastries, or waffles, or pancakes, or anything with heaping amounts of sugar that could be classified as “breakfast”. Someone once told me that your food cravings have a lot to do with what your body feels it is lacking. According to this theory, my body is sending every signal it can think of to make it very clear that I need to eat better things (at least some of the time) because I very rarely crave eggs. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do. I needed a breakfast baketivity not based on sugar content. In such cases as these I turn to cornmeal based goods.

The biscuits themselves were denser than I predicted, but that might be because I used coarse ground polenta-type cornmeal. Not sure if there is a difference between coarse ground and stone ground, but the cornmeal didn’t bake into the biscuits very well. Otherwise, I really enjoyed their presence at my breakfast table as an accompaniment to my eggs. I also like how you can play around with the amount and type of sugar used in the recipe, depending on your dietary needs or wants on any given morning.

I'm pretty awesome. Look at that SWEET smiley face.

Cornbread Biscuits

(Recipe adapted from Vegan Brunch)

Yields 10 to 11 biscuits using a ¼ cup measure, double that if dropping by the heaping tablespoonful

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal, stone-ground preferred

2 tablespoons brown sugar (recipe calls for ¼ cup granulated sugar)

2 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup canola oil

1 cup nondairy milk

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and lightly grease baking sheets.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients.

3. Pour oil, milk, and vinegar into well and gently mix just until all ingredients are moistened. Lumps of flour in batter are a-okay.

4. Drop biscuits with a ¼ cup measure or tablespoon. Biscuits should be dropped about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets, as they will spread.

5. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until tops are dry and firm. Bottoms should be lightly brown.

6. Let biscuits cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.

Biscuits are best served ten minutes after coming out of the oven, but are still yummy at room temperature. Like most biscuits, these are best the day they are made.