11/02/2011 05:08 pm ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Canned Pumpkin

Gail Simmons shows you how to use foods you already have in your pantry to make easy, delicious recipes. In this episode of the Pantry Project, Gail shows viewers how to use canned pumpkin in three recipe. Canned pumpkin, Gail explains, is one of the few shelf-stable products that is comparable in quality and flavor to its fresh counterpart. When you're buying canned pumpkin, make sure that it's pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling, which has sugar and other flavorings you don't want. And if you're considering puréeing some pumpkin yourself, don't bother -- the canned stuff is smoother because it's been puréed with industrial machinery.

In this video, Gail shows viewers how to make a pumpkin bread pudding -- it requires only a handful of ingredients and takes just over an hour to prepare. To start this recipe off, Gail cuts day-old brioche into one-inch pieces. (Any soft country bread will do.) Gail chooses to leave the crusts on -- she likes the texture and flavor the crust adds -- but you might prefer to remove the crust before cutting the cubes. She then lays the brioche pieces on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet and bakes them in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes until they are golden brown.

Next, Gail mixes milk, eggs, canned pumpkin, sugar and melted butter with a whisk, and when the ingredients are thoroughly combined, adds small amounts of rum, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Once these are mixed in, she adds the toasted brioche to the bowl, tosses the ingredients until the bread is soaked, adds dried cranberries, and tosses the mixture once more. She then lets it sit for 10 minutes until the custard is fully absorbed by the bread and cranberries.

Lastly, Gail uses a pastry brush to apply butter to a baking dish -- making sure to cover the entire dish, including corners, so the pudding won't stick -- and pours the bread mixture into the dish. Using a spatula, she flattens the top of the pudding to make sure it's evenly distributed and then sprinkles on some sugar, which will form into a crystallized, shiny crust. She places the baking dish on the previously used sheet tray, and cooks the pudding for 50 minutes in the oven until it's golden brown and crispy. After letting the finished pudding cool, Gail whips some mascarpone cheese (a mild yet rich fresh Italian cheese) with a fork to give it a fluffy texture, and then plates each serving of pudding with a dollop of the creamy cheese and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. (Whipped cream or ice cream would be equally delicious as mascarpone.)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Whipped Mascarpone
Pumpkin Rosemary Soup with Bacon and Parmesan
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Honeyed Walnuts