Pumpkin cream cheese bread pudding with streusel topping

Pumpkin season has returned! If pumpkin-spiced everything is not really your thing, you can still enjoy baking with this versatile squash.

The Pastry Chef's Baking
This pumpkin bread pudding has a cream cheese layer and is topped with a streusel of toasted pecans.

I’ve been so busy that it took me awhile to notice the days are getting shorter. At first, driving into work at 6 am to run at the gym was when it was starting to get lighter but now it’s still pitch black on my drive. Coming home at 7 pm also used to mean there was still another hour of daylight left. Ah, not any longer.

To most people, that means it’s the start of fall and cooler weather. To a blogger, it means I often can’t take very good baking pictures during the week because there’s no natural light left by the time I get to the picture-taking part of the baking process after work. Usually that’s not a problem since I mostly bake on the weekends anyway. But I was meeting my nieces for dinner on a Wednesday night and I had promised to make this bread pudding for them and I wanted it as fresh as possible.

The upside of making bread pudding is you can prep it ahead of time and it’s actually better for it to soak overnight before baking. So it was easy enough to put together one night, let sit in the refrigerator for a day, then bake as soon as I got home the night before I needed to bring it with me to the dinner. The downside is it was already dark when I got home from work, it was dark when it came out of the oven and I had to wait for it to cool before dishing out a piece and taking pictures. Hence why the pictures may not be that great.

As bread puddings go, this was pretty good but I would probably make a few modifications next time. It needed more custard. The amount the recipe makes didn’t seem like enough for the amount of bread I used. Good bread pudding is soaked well in custard. Bad bread pudding is dry and doesn’t have enough custard to soak all the bread.

If you make this, either cut back on the bread or make 1-1/2 recipes of the custard. If you’re a cream cheese lover, you’ll like the layer of cream cheese in the middle. I’m not a cream cheese lover but my nieces are so I included it for them but if it was up to me, I’d leave it out. I also toasted the pecans beforehand for the streusel but next time, I wouldn’t toast them first since they’re going to bake on top anyway and you don’t want them to burn. I would also use more butter and make clumpy streusel instead of streusel sprinkles on top. Chunky streusel would crisp up in baking and provide more of a texture contrast to the soft bread pudding. 

Pumpkin cream cheese bread pudding with streusel topping
Adapted from King's Hawaiian

1 cup milk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12 pack King's Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls or 1 16-ounce loaf challah, cubed

For the crumb topping:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

For the cream cheese filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, sugar and cinnamon on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, pumpkin puree, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla.
Lightly spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place a layer of bread cubes evenly into the baking dish. Pour half of the pumpkin puree mixture evenly over the bread layer. Spread cream cheese filling evenly over the bread/pumpkin puree. Top with remaining bread cubes and pumpkin puree mixture to completely cover the filling.

3. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

5. Make the crumb topping: combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add cold butter and toss to coat, working the butter into the dry ingredients with two knives or your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping evenly over the bread pudding.

6. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle with pecans and confectioners' sugar, if desired. Serve immediately.

Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Spiced Pumpkin Cookie Cakes

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