Monday, 26 October 2009

Pumpkin bread pudding for interesting times

E says that the road from Melbourne to Geelong is one of the most boring sights in the world. Well, you probably have heard of the Chinese curse, ‘may you live in interesting times.’ Likewise I can tell you that boring is sometimes kinder than interesting. I visited family in Geelong on Friday and on the way down and back there were interesting events that I would not recommend to anyone.

The event on the way there did not effect me much directly. It was a road accident that was so freaky it shakes your confidence in the world. A motorist stopped to help someone who had broken down and as he returned to his car he was hit and killed by a wheel flying off a passing truck. I am sure this is hard for his family to make sense of such random misfortune and I have been thinking of them. I heard about it just after I left and the reports said that the Princes Freeway was closed so I went via the suburbs to avoid it, which added quite a bit to my travel time.

We had a lovely time at my parents’ place. Friday was the birthday of my sister, my uncle and my grandmother. Susie and my grandmother were there and we have a roast dinner and sponge cake to celebrate. Sylvia had her dinner there next to her big cousin, Cooper. Fortunately my parents have two high chairs for the babies to sit in. It was a gorgeous sunny day and we were able to sit in the garden amidst an explosion of colour in the flower beds.

Unfortunately sunshine means that if you put on your parking lights on the car by accident it will be difficult to notice. By the time my brother told me I needed to turn off the lights they had been on for a few hours. So when I was tired and ready to go home with Sylvia settled in her car seat, I turned on the engine and found the battery was dead.

Ironically I had looked at my overdue bill for our roadside assistance scheme before leaving and thought surely I wont need to call on them today. But call, I did. Fortunately they didn’t quibble over a few days overdue payment and they didn’t take too long to arrive. My dad went out to meet them. Finally I went out to check how it was going and the car had gone. For a brief moment I thought my luck really was out today. Minutes later my dad drove it up to the house because he was giving the re-charged battery a burl.

I was tired driving home but was heartened by the thought of leftover pumpkin and chocolate bread pudding waiting for me in the fridge. It had been a long time coming. I went for coffee at Andre’s on Sunday with my friend Heather and bought a loaf of day old fruit bread. It seemed destined for bread pudding so I roasted some pumpkin for that purpose on Monday night and finally made the pudding on Thursday.

Now while life can be cruelly random, it can also be kind to us. I sometimes am amazed at how many food blogs are out there and it seems like good luck to chance upon some which have lots of recipes I want to try. Two of these are Ricki’s Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Meeta’s What’s for Lunch Honey. Some months ago I bookmarked Ricki’s healthy recipe for Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Warm Caramel Sauce and Meeta’s decadent Roasted Pumpkin and Chocolate Bread Pudding.

I took the chocolate and spices from Meeta but left out the eggs, cream and butter. I took the oats and soy milk from Ricki but didn’t feel the need or have the energy to add the warm caramel sauce. I used maple syrup which seemed so much nicer and appropriate than sugar. The result was a delicious Pumpkin and Chocolate Bread Pudding that was both healthy and decadent. The pumpkin sauce was a thick and comforting custard that could be eaten by itself but was even better with swirls of melting chocolate. The dense sourdough bread with generous studs of walnuts and dried fruit was lovely soaked in the sauce.

I can’t tell you enough just how fantastic this pudding was. I was shocked that E was not keen on it, even with a dollop of Soyatoo slag cream - he didn't like the nuts and dried fruit. I was also a little pleased because I wanted to just eat and eat it. But it did make a lot so I took a little slab of it down to my mum in Geelong to try. I was very glad to have discovered Ricki and Meeta’s blogs when I ate this pudding, especially on Friday night when I got home tired and in need of comfort. It was just what I needed.

I would not have discovered these blogs without blog events so I want to continue to the sharing. Mansi of Food and Fun Café is holding a recipe contest called A Sweet Celebration, which focuses on sweets and desserts. Her criteria for judging is originality, presentation, serving and measurement details, virtual taste & overall appeal. I didn’t do too well with presentation – as usual – but this pumpkin and chocolate bread pudding is so good that I am sending it to Mansi.

Pumpkin and chocolate bread pudding
adapted from Diet Dessert and Dogs and What’s for Lunch Honey
serves 6-8

1 kg pumpkin, peeled, trimmed and diced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
cup rolled oats (not quick or instant)
2 cups soy milk (or other milk)
cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
teaspoon ground allspice
1 medium loaf of stale sourdough fruit bread*
100g dark chocolate, chopped (I used one with 70% cocoa solids)

*You can use any bread if you don’t have a fruit bread. Meeta used challah. Ricki used yeast free pumpkin bread. If you want this gluten free you could use gluten free bread and use cornflour instead of oats or GF oats. If you want this vegan, make sure your bread is vegan. If you don’t use fruit bread, I can recommend a handful of walnuts and cranberries in the pumpkin sauce.

Toss pumpkin and oil in a large roasting dish. Roast at 220 C for 30-45 minutes until pumpkin is soft. At this stage you can put pumpkin in fridge for up to 3 days if preparing in advance (or coping with a small baby). NB once pureed, the pumpkin makes about 2 cups.

Using a food processor or a hand held blender puree pumpkin, milk, rolled oats, maple syrup and spices. (I tried this in my 1 litre jug and it was too small so I had to find a bigger container.) Slice the bread thickly and chop into quarters. Roughly chop the chocolate.

Grease a 22-23cm square ceramic or glass baking dish. Spread about a quarter of the pumpkin sauce on the bottom of the dish. Layer bread, chocolate, pumpkin, bread, chocolate, pumpkin, bread, chocolate, pumpkin. The top layer will be pumpkin and the sauce should coat each layer well. Sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the pumpkin sauce to soak into the bread.

While pudding rests, preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F degrees. Bake for about 50 minutes until the top is lightly browned and puffed. Sit for at least 10 minutes before serving. I prefer mine plain but others might like it served with cream or caramel sauce. Leftovers, if you are lucky enough to have any, can be reheated in the microwave.

On the stereo:
Right Here … A Go Betweens Tribute: Various Artists

11 comments:

  1. I'm sure the pudding tasted great Johanna! after all, it has been inspired from 2 great bloggers:) and your instructions look so detailed!

    thanks for sharing your experience with us:)

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  2. That poor man and his family on the highway! I can see why you were so shaken up. And then to have the battery die! Yes, you definitely needed comfort food that day.

    The pudding sounds just incredibly delicious! Love the idea of that pumpkin sauce as well. You've also reminded me that I want to start participating in blog events again!

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  3. Freakish events like the one you mentioned remind you to seize the day and make the most of life as it comes. Love your pudding recipe - I am a pumpkin fan and am enjoying all the North American pumpkin sweet blog posts coming out, so it's great to find an Oz one.

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  4. What a delight of a great bread!! Very seasonal too!! It is packed with lovely things!!

    MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM,...

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  5. Oh dear, such a tragic event - I can imagine just how shaken you must have been... and then your car battery... oh dear, poor you! I'm quite impressed that you were able to remain calm and cheer yourself up with this gorgeous, well deserved pudding... Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! Your bread pudding sounds heavenly indeed!

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  6. i heard about that accident, it's just awful. i was so shocked. the bread looks so good! just a note though, i don't know if this will bother you or not but the purple vitasoy - the calci plus one - has a lanolin derivative in it. that's where it's vitamin d came from. not a lot of people know because it doesn't say anywhere on the carton. it grosses me out though :S

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  7. Thanks Mansi - I feel I got the best of ricki's and meeta's cooking - and these two do some amazing stuff!

    Thanks Ricki - hope you do get to participate in a few more events - if you hadn't in the first place I might not have discovered your blog so soon

    Thanks Cakelaw - it is great to see Australian pumpkin recipes - especially as it seems that the pumpkin we use is slightly different - but I love all the American recipes

    Thanks Sophie - glad it is seasonal for you - pumpkin is easy to get all year round here, luckily for us

    Thanks Astra - the bread pudding made it all feel much better but it was such a horrid accident

    Thanks Philippa - while I am not being really strict about dairy, I am shocked how careful you have to be to avoid it - and I was also shocked that this milk has gluten in it - am trying another brand at the moment which has less ingredients

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  8. That's quite a recommendation you give the pudding! I am very tempted to give it a try - much to my shame, I don't think I've ever baked anything with pumpkin...

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  9. Firstly I have to agree with E, that drive is usually boring.Such a terrible accident, it just shows how quickly things can go wrong.
    Onto your pumpkin and chocolate pudding. What a great combination of flavors and a nice tasty way of using sourdough fruit loaf. Excellent recipe. Thank you for sharing

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  10. Oh, that accident is awful :( I'm glad you had a good day with your parents though and the car didn't take too long to get going again!

    And mmm that bread pudding looks fabulous!

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  11. Thanks A Forkful - when I talk about pumpkin I also mean what brits call butternut squash - maybe you have baked with that - if not I highly recommend roasting it first to bring out the flavour and so it is less watery

    Thanks Wanda - oh yes, life can change in an instant! glad you like the sound of the pudding

    Thanks Vegetation - the accident was so awful that it made me feel I didn't really have much to complain about

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