Howdy, y’all! We’ve finally reached the other side of the High Holidays. Don’t get me wrong, Sukkot is my favorite Jewish holiday, and I love that it is a long one. However, is it just me, or do other people find all the “holy convocation” days confusing? I can never quite figure it out. But hey, it doesn’t matter, because I made savory bread pudding baked in a pumpkin. And I baked it for you! I had previously posted this recipe several years ago. The pictures leave a lot to be desired, and so does the copy, so I scrapped it, redid it, and here we are.
I like to make this dish during Sukkot (and I did!), but even though the holiday is over, this dish is pretty perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah or whenever you are feeling particularly #PSL. But can we talk about the size of pumpkins in North Carolina? I looked far and wide for the appropriate-sized pumpkin, you know, medium, and all I could find were tiny and extra large pumpkins. I did finally find a pumpkin squat enough to fit in my oven, but I had to increase my recipe by 2-3x.
It’s safe to say that at this moment, we have a lot of leftovers. So if you’re a friend and live near me (you know who you are), you are welcome to come on over and heat up a slice for yourself! No, please, heat up a slice, or two, or four.
I’ve only tried this in a standard pumpkin, but I’m pretty sure as long as you can carve it, you can use it to bake bread pudding, then also eat the walls like a bread bowl, except the bread is inside the pumpkin bowl. You can also add to the recipe in creative ways (the original recipe featured bacon). Like mushrooms, sundries tomatoes, onions, brussel sprouts? Toss them in! I think it goes without saying that this certainly looks impressive, but is as easy as pie. No, easier than pie. Easy as paninis? Okay, I’ll work on that one. Let’s just say you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to pull this off, but you’ll look like a rocket scientist, and that’s what counts.
Please save this recipe for later and pin the pic below! (Please.)
- • 1 pumpkin, about 3 pounds
- • Salt and freshly ground pepper
- • 1/4 pound stale bread (I used leftover challah), thinly sliced and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- • 1/4 pound cheese, such as Gruyere, cheddar, or a combination, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- • 2–4 garlic cloves (to taste), coarsely chopped
- • About 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
- • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- • About 1/3 cup heavy cream
- • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (If your pumpkin is large, you'll have to make sure your rack is on one of the lower levels.
- Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment.
- Using a very sturdy knife, cut a cap out of the top of the pumpkin (think Halloween jack-o’-lantern). You want to cut off enough of the top to make it easy for you to work inside the pumpkin. Clear away the seeds and strings from the cap and from inside the pumpkin (I did this the night before. I also cut up the challah the night before to let it sit out and go stale).
- Season the inside of the pumpkin generously with salt and pepper, and put it on the baking sheet.
- Toss the bread, cheese, garlic, and herbs together in a bowl. Season with pepper and pack the mix into the pumpkin. The pumpkin should be well filled — you might have a little too much filling, or you might need to add to it.
- Stir the cream with the nutmeg and some salt and pepper and pour it into the pumpkin. Again, you might have too much or too little — you don’t want the ingredients to swim in cream, but you do want them nicely moistened.
- Put the cap in place and bake the pumpkin for about 2 hours — check after 90 minutes — or until everything inside the pumpkin is bubbling and the flesh of the pumpkin is tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife.
- Because the pumpkin will have exuded liquid, I removed the cap during the last 20 minutes or so, so that the liquid can bake away and the top of the stuffing can brown a little.
- When the pumpkin is ready, carefully, very carefully — it’s heavy, hot, and wobbly — bring it to the table or transfer it to a platter that you’ll bring to the table.
- This dish is best when served hot and right away. You can serve the bread pudding from the pumpkin, using it like a bowl, but I like cutting wedges from it. Give to each person a good amount of pumpkin flesh while also making a very pretty presentation.