This vegan bread pudding is full of the aromatic flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, combined with the rich, amber taste of maple syrup.
Well, it’s that time of year again, the time when I throw all caution to the wind and offer you something a little richer, a little more decadent, a little more sinfully delicious than my usual fare. I consider Thanksgiving to be a time to relax and enjoy cooking for and eating with family and friends.
And because I’m often put into the position of feeling like a “vegan ambassador”–someone whose job it is to spread the glory of veganism to everyone she meets–I try to come up with something that everybody will enjoy, not just those of us who are used to following a low-fat, low-sugar whole foods diet.
That’s why some of my holiday recipes, such as Double-Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake or Vegan Green Bean Casserole, contain ingredients I wouldn’t normally use. I don’t advocate eating these delicious dishes every day, but I think they can be very special as a part of a celebration and feast once a year.
For this year’s holiday extravagance, I decided to commit culinary heresy and take my husband D’s signature dessert, the New Orlean’s style bread pudding he learned to make years ago, and give it a fat-free makeover. It was a huge challenge. The original recipe for just the sauce contained a stick of butter, a cup of sugar, and a cup of rum. D, of course, had veganized it with margarine and cut down the amount, but it’s still one of the richest desserts ever to come out of my kitchen. And it’s the dessert that my daughter now asks for on her birthday. So I knew I had better do it justice, but I decided to go a step further and make it…unrecognizable.
The original was, essentially, French bread soaked in sugar, margarine, and alcohol. I decided to replace the margarine with pumpkin and pumpkin spices, replace the 3 cups of sugar with a lot less maple syrup and just a tad of organic dark brown sugar, and reduce the alcohol to just a taste. I held my breath as my family members sampled it and gave their verdicts: “It’s different but delicious.” And then they proceeded to eat it all up!
If you like pumpkin pie and bread pudding, I think you’ll love this combination. It’s full of the aromatic flavors of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, combined with the rich, amber taste of maple syrup. It’s just sweet enough without being too sweet, just decadent enough without being loaded with fat. You can serve it to your family and not feel guilty when they eat the entire pan.
I know someone is going to ask about making this gluten-free, but I just don’t know. The French bread I used was quite sturdy and dense, and it’s the gluten in the bread that keeps it from dissolving into mush. I fear that gluten-free bread might not work, but since I don’t have any experience with gluten-free bread, I can’t say for sure. It could be that breaking down into mush isn’t such a bad thing in a bread pudding, so I will let my gluten-free readers experiment with this and report back.
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If you’re planning your holiday meal, start right here with my collection of Thanksgiving recipes.
Vegan Pumpkin Bread Pudding
- 1 16 ounce loaf French bread
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 1/2 cup soymilk or other non-dairy milk vanilla or plain
- 1 cup pumpkin canned or cooked and pureed
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer may substitute 2 1/2 tsp. starch (tapioca, potato, or corn starch) plus 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt optional
- 1/2 cup apple cider or juice
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon apple juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brandy, rum, or bourbon add to taste up to 1/4 cup
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts optional
- Cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces. If the bread seems moist or dense, spread it out on a cookie sheet and toast it for a few minutes in the oven. Place it in a large bowl and add the raisins.
- Put the non-dairy milk into the blender along with the pumpkin, maple syrup, sugar, Ener-G, vanilla, spices, and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour it over the bread, using a silicone spatula to get out every drop. Stir well to completely coat all of the bread. Set aside to soak for a few minutes while you ready the pan and preheat the oven.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with parchment paper or oil lightly. Pour the bread pudding into the pan in an even layer. Bake for about 45 minutes or until top is set and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
- While the pudding is cooling make the sauce. Place the apple cider and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring often, until reduced to about half.
- Carefully add the cornstarch mixture, bring to a boil, and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture is no longer cloudy and thickens slightly. Remove from heat and add the brandy or other spirits a little at a time, to taste. Stir in the nuts. Poke a few holes in the top of the bread pudding with a toothpick, and pour the sauce over the top, distributing nuts evenly. Cut into squares and serve warm.
Nutritional info is approximate.
moonwatcherNovember 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm
This looks so sumptuous–what an inspiration to use pumpkin instead of margarine and so much sugar! I think you may be right about the gluten-free alternative. I am thinking on it. The texture will be different, but maybe that’s not so bad in a treat like this, as you say. Beautiful photos–thanks for another option to add to the Thanksgiving feast. 🙂
BrendaNovember 20, 2013 at 2:35 pm
Would love to hear about a GF version, if you do decide to experiment!
Tami@Nutmeg NotebookNovember 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm
This looks nothing short of spectacular! I have to admit that I have never had a bread pudding and after switching to a plant based diet I didn’t think I would ever be making one until now that is.
Thanks for the link to your Thanksgiving recipes – we will be having your green bean casserole and the Applesauce Ginger cake which is already a family favorite for us. Thanks for all your cooking efforts Susan and may your family enjoy a blessed Thanksgiving.
DanielleNovember 20, 2013 at 3:14 pm
Hm, I would, if I needed to eat gluten-free, make this with oatmeal instead of bread, and bake it, a la all the baked oatmeal recipes out there nowadays. It would be different, but still delicious, just like this is different from the original bread pudding recipe.
DanielleNovember 20, 2013 at 3:15 pm
p.s. this recipe does look delicious, btw! I love pumpkin in anything.
Jenna BDecember 14, 2013 at 5:53 pm
This recipe looks fabulous, thanks! Just beware that substituting oats will NOT make it gluten-free. An easy way to remember the problem grains if you are cooking for a gluten sensitive friend is to avoid “BROW”, an acronym formed from the first letters of gluten containing grains:
– Barley, Rye, Oats, and Wheat = BROW= the forbidden grains for Celiacs
Jenna BDecember 14, 2013 at 5:57 pm
“**Oats are inherently gluten-free, but are frequently contaminated with wheat during growing or processing. Several companies (Bob’s Red Mill, Cream Hill Estates, GF Harvest (formerly Gluten Free Oats), and Avena Foods (Only Oats) are currently among those that offer pure, uncontaminated oats. Ask your physician if these oats are acceptable for you.”
moonwatcherDecember 14, 2013 at 7:01 pm
I’m glad you qualified your comment about oats. The contamination can really be a problem, but these gluten-free ones are often fine for many people who are either wheat intolerant or celiac. Gluten Free Goddess blog uses them in some of her recipes and she is celiac. Thanks for the clarification. I am not celiac, but am gluten intolerant and I use the gluten-free ones in my recipes as well, though I try if I can to offer a possiblesubstitute for those who can’t eat even the gluten-free ones.
Abby @ The Frosted VeganNovember 20, 2013 at 3:22 pm
Oh my goodness, I love this! Between the pumpkin and the rum, I am so making this for Thanksgiving : )
LoriNovember 20, 2013 at 3:49 pm
Thanks Susan for this, bread pudding is one of my favorites, and this looks very delicious. Since I’m trying to eat low glycemic and don’t do well with Stevia, I think I will try coconut nectar and maybe a (little less) date sugar or in place of the brown, and see how that goes; one way or another it will be yummy anyway!
Lauren VaughtNovember 20, 2013 at 3:55 pm
I love bread pudding and this posting made me soooo happy!!
Question about the french bread loaf – aren’t they baked with eggs? I always have a hard time deciphering the different breads out there. Any help you can offer is welcome!
Thanks for this amazing recipe Susan.
Susan VoisinNovember 21, 2013 at 7:39 am
A classic French bread should have no egg and very simple ingredients–flour, salt, yeast, and water–so look for that. Also check to make sure there’s no egg used to glaze the top. You have to read a lot of labels, but I find it easier to find a vegan French bread than most other kinds, including whole grain breads, which usually have dairy or honey added.
CLEveganNovember 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm
Susan, this looks fabulously delicious!
Would it work to put the liquid ingredients in the large mixing bowl and use a stick blender, and then add the torn bread? I hate leaving yummy liquid ingredients in the blender – and cleaning the blender.
How much rum flavoring do you suggest instead of actual rum?
Thank you so much for all your wonderful recipes and beautiful pictures!
Susan VoisinNovember 21, 2013 at 8:55 am
A stick blender should work fine. I agree about the ingredients being left in the blender. If you don’t really get in there with a silicone spatula, a lot of flavor can be wasted.
For the rum, I would start with 1/4 teaspoon of extract and add more to taste (taste carefully because that syrup will be hot). 🙂
wendy (healthy girl's kitchen)November 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm
I am sure this is totally amazing!
A few months ago I made a Vegan Pumpkin Bread pudding from Happy Healthy Long Life (her’s was a riff off of a Chloe Cosarelli’s) and it used the Cinnamon Raisin Ezekial bread. I was astonished how good it was with that bread. It was actually a problem for me because I kept eating and eating it. LOL
Enjoy your holiday! Your recipes (that Green Bean Casserole???? OMG) have become a big part of our new Thanksgiving traditions.
Susan VoisinNovember 21, 2013 at 8:57 am
Mmmm, cinnamon-raisin Ezekial bread. What a great idea!
I’m so happy to hear you like the Green Bean Casserole. I’ve been craving it lately. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!
JSNovember 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm
I kind of want to try this with the fruit and nut Manna bread, too.
DebNovember 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm
could we use flax seed or chia instead of the egg replacer?
Susan VoisinNovember 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm
I haven’t tried it with either. I sometimes don’t like the texture they give in desserts–slimy rather than the thickness of a starch. Plus, they don’t add any leavening like Ener-G does. They might not be bad, just not my first choice.
LizNovember 20, 2013 at 7:49 pm
Your photos of this are absolutely STUNNING. It looks like you captured every facet and nuance of the dessert — the layers, the sauce, nuts, raisins — and it looks so unbelievably delicious! This just looks SO. GOOD!
Susan VoisinNovember 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm
Thanks so much, Liz. You just made my day!
LaurenNovember 20, 2013 at 8:53 pm
How about chocolate chips instead of raisins?
Susan VoisinNovember 20, 2013 at 10:12 pm
I personally don’t like chocolate with pumpkin, but whatever turns you on.
JSNovember 21, 2013 at 12:07 pm
That sounds delicious – local vegan bakery has a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin that I <3.
KateNovember 21, 2013 at 1:07 am
This looks so yummy.
kensingtoncookerNovember 21, 2013 at 6:36 am
In answer to your question, Lauren, original French baguettes are egg- and oil-free free. Their simple ingredients are flour, water, yeast, and salt. Not all bread labeled “French” is authentic however, so you might want to ask at the bakery or check the label.
Susan VoisinNovember 21, 2013 at 7:39 am
Thanks for responding! I had missed that question.
Marta @ What Should I eat for breakfast todayNovember 21, 2013 at 11:40 am
If it tastes as good as it looks, I can’t wait to make it.
Christine (The Raw Project)November 21, 2013 at 3:57 pm
This looks amazing, such a creative recipe! I must make it for my hubby who is a rabid bread pudding and pumpkin pie fan. Thanks!
Heather @Gluten-Free CatNovember 21, 2013 at 6:04 pm
This would be the perfect dessert to bring for Thanksgiving dinner! What a gorgeous picture too!
kerry - www.cookingkind.comNovember 21, 2013 at 7:44 pm
This looks great! I am going to make it, thanks for sharing!
MollyNovember 22, 2013 at 9:00 am
Thank you thank you thank you! I used to have an amazing pumpkin bread pudding recipe, but of course it was full of eggs, butter, etc. I hadn’t had any luck veganizing it! I’m definitely making this tomorrow!
Angela WNovember 22, 2013 at 9:47 am
Susan — I love this recipe. I didn’t want to wait to buy the bread you used, so I used 8 slices of Ezekial 7 grain sprouted bread. Although, if I had had the cinnamon raisin as a previous poster recommended, I would have used that instead. I spooned the mixture into cupcake liners (my attempt at portion control! ha!). They turned out great! Thanks so much! I now have “my” dessert for Thanksgiving next week.
MeganNovember 23, 2013 at 6:18 am
Yum, I love all your recipes and the photos make me drool….especially this one!
Summer CrouchNovember 23, 2013 at 11:26 am
I tried this recipe last night and it was to die for! Thank you so much for sharing! I will be making it again this Thursday for Thanksgiving!
MichaelNovember 24, 2013 at 10:24 am
Just made this today, as a test run for my non vegan, n0n-calorically challenged college grad aged kids who are coming over for Thanksgving. It was delicious and I think it will easily pass the flavor and luxury test even for them. For me, I haven’t had anything this sinful since I became vegan a year ago.
A couple of questions. When you say “French bread” do you mean something other than what I think of : long thin baguettes? I bought two 10 oz ones and could just about fit one in an 8×8 pan.
The only time I ever had bread pudding before was on a trip last year to NOLA and one of the expensive well known restaurants where they supposedly also invented Bananas Foster. So…. just to be sure I cooked it correctly, what should the texture be like? Is it correct that much of the innards are more gooey than bready?
It seems to me this would be wonderful with some sort of whipped topping or for the non vegans, “ice cream”. Do you have any favorite toppings like that and/or recipes?
Thanks for this recipe, I will be visiting much more often.
Susan VoisinNovember 24, 2013 at 11:04 am
I used a very long, very dense, thin baguette that weighed 16 ounces. The final texture was very firm with parts of the dense bread that were still white and a sort of custard holding it all together. I think if you use more bread next time (pack it in) it will be less bready and more cake-like. I think it would be excellent served with vegan ice cream (vanilla or pecan).
LaurenNovember 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm
(may substitute 2 1/2 tsp. starch plus 1/2 tsp. baking soda) – by starch do you mean cornstarch, or something else? Just double checking.
Susan VoisinNovember 24, 2013 at 9:33 pm
Corn starch, potato starch, or tapioca starch–any one will work.
MaureenNovember 25, 2013 at 12:52 pm
Oh, my! This just became a required element of Thanksgiving for my chocoholic husband! Well done, and thank you for sharing. 🙂
LoriNovember 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm
Can I use Agave Nectar instead of the Maple Syrup?.
Susan VoisinNovember 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm
Yes, but it won’t be as flavorful.
AngelicaNovember 28, 2013 at 10:35 am
Re: Pumpkin Bread Pudding
I decided to try one of my Gluten-free vegan breads I made from the Flying Apron Cookbook. It turned out delicious!
I used Quinoa Sandwich bread and once I coated all the bread well with the pumpkin mixture, I had it set overnight instead of just for a few minutes. (because gluten-free bread is so dense, I wanted to make sure it would be soft)
I am so thankful for your website and recipes!
Susan VoisinNovember 28, 2013 at 10:41 am
I’m so happy to hear it works gluten-free! Thanks for letting me know, and happy Thanksgiving!
LaurenNovember 29, 2013 at 12:28 pm
Made this for Thanksgiving this year. So good! Thanks for sharing! My only tip to readers would be go with the lower side of the spectrum for the rum/bourbon amount. I went with the higher amount and it was very very boozey! But still delicious. Just strong! Thanks, Susan!
StephNovember 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm
I made this for Thanksgiving last night-yum!!! It looked great, smelled amazing, and tasted even better! Thanks for making a great recipe!
BarbaraNovember 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm
I prepared for our Thanksgiving dinner. As a gourmet vegan chef, I really enjoy finding great recipes – and this was the best ever . Thank you for sharing !
MollyDecember 5, 2013 at 9:41 am
I ended up making this for Thanksgiving and OMG! It is amazing!
JeanLucDecember 6, 2013 at 9:29 am
This recipe looks amazing! I’d love to try it, but I am underage for drinking, and was wondering…can I substitute the alcohol or just remove it all together?
Thanks so much for posting!
Susan VoisinDecember 6, 2013 at 9:34 am
You can leave it out, but a better option would be to add some rum extract (very little, like 1/4 tsp. to start) or even vanilla extract, for flavor.
RaniDecember 20, 2013 at 2:07 pm
I was looking for a vegan dessert for Christmas dinner & this looks amazing. I love pumpkin, but in the last year have developed an allergy to it. I think I’ll try this, but substitute sweet potato for the pumpkin. Hopefully it will be just as delicious!
edith plattDecember 21, 2013 at 10:56 am
I don’t make many of these recipes but this one is magnificent! I made it, it’s amazing! I’m making it for Christmas guests. Try it, you’ll be so happy!
Marla KerrJanuary 4, 2014 at 10:29 am
I made this for Xmas and it was wonderful! I did find that 16 oz of bread was quite a bit; I ended up doubling the liquid and sauce and using a 9×13 pan – essentially doubling the batch. Also, next time I will try adding the rum prior to removing the pan from the stove; the first night the bread pudding had a stronger alcohol taste than I prefer. Nevertheless, my WFPB sister and I ate the entire double batch over the holidays and will definitely make it again. Thanks!
FrancesJanuary 31, 2014 at 9:38 pm
A gluten-free option that might work would be to use breadfruit instead of bread if you can find it. When it is cooked its texture is somewhere between bread and cooked potato. I would try this, but I have yet to find breadfruit near me that isn’t mixed in a curry. Hopefully I will soon! The one problem that I can think of with this is that it probably wouldn’t absorb quite as much liquid as bread.
Esther JMarch 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm
Just finished a slice of this Fat Tuesday decadence. Very good!
I sub’d half of the maple for molasses because I didn’t have dark brown sugar and also I wanted the pudding a little less sweet. I was down to a scant quarter cup of raisins, which I threw in, and while the true raisin lovers among us might miss them, it turned out just fine for me.
Thanks for this, Susan, and Happy Mardi Gras! Have a fruitful Lent!
Joanne BudaMarch 23, 2014 at 10:48 am
I made this with a 16oz Alvarado Street cinnamon raisin sprouted wheat bread loaf and it was delicious!
LexiAugust 31, 2014 at 7:25 pm
I am baking this right now with cinnamon Ezekiel raisin bread. I do not have any apple juice or cider so I am trying it with fresh squeezed orange juice. I also don’t have any spirits so I am leaving that out. I’ll let you guys know how it turns out.
LexiAugust 31, 2014 at 7:57 pm
Ok. I just tried it with the connotation raisin Ezekiel bread and orange juice instead if Apple. (had raison bread on hand after I bought a loaf for my daughter for school lunches but she preferred plain wheat bread). Ok, if you use cinnamon raison bread you don’t need to add any sugar. It was too sweet for my taste, also I didn’t add any spirits to the glaze because I didn’t have any, is think the bitterness from the spirits would have helped counteract the sweetness. I think the orange juice substituted with Apple worked fine but next time I think I’ll try the apple with the spirits. Great way to start fall (even if it’s only august 31st and I live in SoCal. Thanks for sharing the pumpkin desert. Love your blog.
Jacob HealthyOctober 31, 2014 at 12:03 pm
Vegan life is soooo much better when you find recipes like this. 🙂 I would gladly read recipes about other similar vegan desserts. Can you recommend me some?