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Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Apple Caramel Sauce and Spiced Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Bread
Yields: 1 9-inch loaf

2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans or cranberries, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick baking spray. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt in a large bowl. 
2. Whisk together pumpkin puree, sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla in separate large bowl until smooth. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and mix until just combined. Fold in the walnuts. 
3. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to cool for 1 hour. Slice the bread into 1-inch squares, place on a baking sheet and allow the bread to sit out at least 8 hours or overnight to get stale. 

Pumpkin Custard
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
½ cup canned pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine the milk, cream and ¼ cup of the sugar in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. 
2. Whisk together the eggs, remaining sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt until in a large bowl until combined. Slowly whisk in the warm milk mixture. Add the stale pumpkin bread and stir to coat. Let the bread sit in the mixture for 10 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed. Transfer the mixture to a large buttered 4 quart deep dish baking dish. Place the baking dish into a large roasting pan and pour hot tap water halfway up the sides. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until slightly puffed around the edges but not quite set in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool on a baking rack for at least 2 hours. Serve warm or at room temperature in bowls topped with the caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream, if desired. 

Apple Caramel Sauce
2 cups sugar
½ cup water
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons apple brandy (such as Calvados) or ¼ cup apple cider

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and turned a deep amber color, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cream and apple brandy. Return to the stove over high heat and cook until combines, about 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm. 

Spiced Whipped Cream
1 ½ cups cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Using a hand-held mixer, mix together the cream, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl until soft peaks form. 

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