Indigenous recipes did include lightly sweetened, spiced roasted squash, but pumpkin breads or pies didn’t exist in traditional Native American recipes. If you’re interested in a pumpkin dessert, I love this nutty, chocolatey, decadent bread pudding as a delicious alternative to the expected holiday pie. The pumpkin bread is delicious on its own, and as part of this pudding laced with chocolate and custard. If you’ve never had bread pudding, imagine eating just the warm, buttery, sweet insides of a stack of French toast. That’s the general dessert experience. Now imagine that stack made of pumpkin bread, and you’ll understand why this is one of my favorite autumnal desserts.
- Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) square baking dish with the butter. Arrange the diced pumpkin bread evenly in the dish and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, salt, sugar, and vanilla until well incorporated. Set aside. In a small saucepot over medium heat, bring the milk to a heavy simmer. Once simmering, slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Note: Whisk in slowly; if you add the hot milk all at once, the eggs will curdle. Slowly pour over the pumpkin bread. Make sure all the bread is soaked with the mixture. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Transfer to the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Prepare a water bath by setting the baking dish into a larger ovenproof pan and pouring hot water into the ovenproof pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake the pudding for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and serve warm.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda together. In another bowl, add ¼ cup (60 ml) water, the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Stir well to combine. Whisk the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture, then stir in the walnuts. Grease a standard (8½ by 4½ by 2½-inch/21 by 11 by 6 cm) loaf pan with the butter. Pour the mixture into the pan and place on a baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Reprinted from New Native Kitchen: Celebrating Modern Recipes of the American Indian by Chef Freddie Bitsoie & James O. Fraioli. Photos by Quentin Bacon. Published by ABRAMS.