Mookie's Pumpkin Cranberry Bread Pudding

My dog, Mookie, inspired this week's dish.  A couple weeks ago, I went to The Bread Basket in Camarillo and splurged on a pumpkin cranberry muffin to eat the next morning for breakfast.  I woke up bright and early and got busy with my morning routine: walk the dogs, feed the dogs, get ready for work, etc.  When I had finished all that, I was finally ready to eat!  I put the muffin in the microwave for 10 seconds, just to warm it up slightly, poured myself a mug of steamed soymilk and sat down to watch a little TV before I had to leave for work.  I went to grab my phone (to set the alarm so I wouldn't be late).  I was gone literally seconds, but when I came back, the muffin was gone and all I could hear was licking noises in the corner.  Mookie had devoured the entire muffin, complete with paper wrapper!  After my initial anger had subsided, I did recognize that it was my fault for leaving the muffin out in the open (albeit, on the table), and perhaps it was just too delicious to resist with the muffin fumes wafting all around.  Needless to say, I was sad because I really wanted the muffin and now was craving the pumpkin cranberry combination. 

And so, I decided to make my own, of course, but with a twist.  I love bread pudding, so I combined the two to make a wonderfully rich, vegan dish.  With the spicy sweet pumpkin and tart cranberries bursting in your mouth, nothing says "The holidays are here!" better.

9 cups bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (You can use any kind of bread, whether it's the pre-sliced white bread or full, uncut round loaves.  I prefer either white, sourdough or sheepherder loaf.  I also like the uncut loaves because then I can cut it to the 1-inch cube size myself.  I got this country bread loaf from Heirloom Bakery in South Pasadena, California.  I removed the crust all around and then cut it into slices and then cubes.)

15 oz. can pumpkin

1 cup sweetened vanilla soymilk

1/2 cup succanat sugar or vegan brown sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9 x 9 pan with canola oil.  Set aside.

In large bowl, mix pumpkin, soymilk, sugar and spices.  Whisk until uniform.  Add cubed bread to bowl and mix to coat.  Allow bread and pumpkin mixture to sit together for about 5-10 minutes, allowing the mixture to absorb into the bread.  Add cranberries and toss again, being careful not to mix too enthusiastically so the bread stays cubed.

Pour into prepared pan and press the mixture down to fill the corners.  Bake for 40 minutes.

Serve warm or cold, plain or dolloped with some Soyatoo whipped topping.

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