French Toast Bread Pudding with Pumpkin Maple Syrup
Soaking bread in custard makes the best French toast, so it made perfect sense to transform everyone's favorite breakfast into a communal confection. There are zillions of bread pudding recipes, but this one has a perfect proportion of bread to custard, and the pumpkin maple syrup makes this a damn near perfect autumn brunch dish.
1. To make the creme fraiche: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour. (If you have the time, refrigerate the creme fraiche mixture overnight. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.)
2. To make the bread pudding: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Have ready a large roasting pan to hold the baking dish.
3. Whisk the eggs and sugar well in a large bowl. Whisk in the cream, milk, and cinnamon. Add the bread cubes and mix well. Let stand 5 minutes for the bread to soak up some of the liquid. Pour into the baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
4. Place the baking dish in the roasting pan. Put the pan on the oven rack, and carefully pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about 1/2 inch up the sides of the dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until the pudding is barely browned and feels set when pressed gently in the center, about 30 minutes more. Remove from the roasting pan and let stand for 5 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, make the syrup: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
6. Spoon the pudding into individual bowls and top with dollops of the spiced creme fraiche. Serve immediately, with the warm pumpkin syrup passed on the side.
If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, mix 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and a large pinch of ground cloves.