Oh you guys, this bake is just beyond. A rich bread is cubed and soaked in a luscious creamy pumpkin custard, baked to golden perfection and then saturated in a sweet caramelized tres leches bath.
The genesis of this idea was born out of the need for a sweet brunch dish to compliment an egg burrito brunch bar theme. I knew I wanted to make a bread pudding and the Mexican theme immediately brought one of my favorite cakes to mind, Tres Leches (three milks). That is how the Tres Leches Bread Pudding part was conceived, and since it’s fall and close to Thanksgiving of course there had to be pumpkin somewhere in the mix. I can’t even begin to describe just how lovely, comforting and divine this combination of flavors is, and best of all, it’s so incredibly simple to make.
10 cups day old loaf bread (preferably an egg bread like challah or brioche), cut into 1 inch cubes
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (8 ounces/237 ml) whole or 2% milk
1 cup (8 ounces/237 ml) half and half
1 can (15 ounces/425 grams) pure pumpkin
1 cup (215 grams) packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Tres Leches Mixture
1 can (14 ounces/396 grams) condensed milk
1 cup (8 ounces/237 ml) evaporated milk
1/2 cup (4 ounces/118 ml) half and half
How to use them:
Liberally spray a 9 inch x 13 inch baking pan with cooking oil.Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes.Place the cubed bread evenly in the pan.Add the eggs to a large bowl.Whisk the eggs for 1 minute.Whisk in the milk and half and half until incorporated, about 1 minute.Add in the pumpkin purée to the egg and milk mixture.Then add the brown sugar.Next come the pumpkin spice, cinnamon and salt.Whisk all of the ingredients for 1 minute.…until all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.Pour the pumpkin custard mixture over the bread.Gently mix until all of the bread cubes are covered in custard.Let the bread sit for at least 30 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350°F 15 minutes before baking.
Bake the bread pudding for 40-45 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick or cake tester come out dry when inserted.As the bread pudding is baking, make the caramelized tres leches sauce. While it is perfectly fine top simply mix the tres leches ingredients and heat them in a medium pot on medium heat until warmed through to the point just before boiling, when steam begins to rise, I prefer to first caramelize the condensed milk for an added layer and depth of flavor. Now, you may have seen the most popular recipe for making dulche de leche which call for boiling a can of condensed milk for three hours. Ain’t no one got time for that! So, I created this quickie dulce de leche cheat that’s done in minutes!
You simply pour the condensed milk in a medium pot.Begin to heat the condensed milk over medium low heat.You have to make certain to whisk constantly so that you don’t scold the mixture. Within a few minutes, you can clearly see the milk caramelizing and the color darkening.You will see little darker bits of cooked milk in the mixture and that’s totally okay, all of that will dissolve beautifully when you add the other milks. Continue to cook the condensed milk over medium-low heat for 6-8 minutes until darkened and caramelized, again making certain to whisk constantly.When you reach the desired color for the condensed milk, about 6-8 minutes of cooking, begin whisking in the evaporated milk and half and half until they are fully incorporated.This step may take a few minutes for all of the condensed milk is fully dissolve and incorporated.
Again, if you choose to skip the caramelization of the condensed milk, you certainly can and it will still be delicious, but I personally prefer the caramel notes it adds to the bake. Gently ladle the hot milk mixture over the pumpkin bread pudding.Allow the bread pudding to rest for 30 minutes for the tres leches to properly imbibe the bread pudding.Cut into slices and serve. You can also go the traditional tres leches route and add a dollop of whipped cream and dusting of cinnamon, which is a touch of pure perfection.One bite ya’ll, and you’re in tres leches pumpkin heaven!