At this time of year, we gather with our families and friends. For many of us, there are homecomings and long-awaited guests coming to stay. You may well have plans to restaurant-hop at dinnertime, but what about breakfast?

You need an easy overnight bread pudding, one that will emerge from the oven in a cloud of spicy fragrance, enticing everyone to the table. Pumpkin and spice are the hot flavor combo of the season, so a Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Pudding is right on trend.

Take it easy on yourself and make this easy, appealing breakfast bake. It’s kind of a cross between a bread pudding and a pumpkin pie, so you know you can’t miss. Instead of standing in the kitchen cooking eggs and making toast, you can just put both in a casserole dish. Turning on the oven will warm the kitchen, too, and a cozy kitchen is often the best place to have a heart-to-heart. You’ll have assembled your feast the night before, so you can devote all your attention to catching up.

When you put on the coffeepot and rouse the sleepy crew, you’ll be glad to offer something a little more substantial than a bowl of cold cereal. It’s cold outside, and everyone has to fuel up for braving the snowy hinterlands. (Or sitting on the couch, watching sports.)

It’s a great way to use up half a loaf of bread that is getting a little stale, too. Whole-grain bread will keep you full and fueled longer than white, and since it’s steeped in pumpkin spice, nobody will even notice that it’s got fiber. You can even use gluten-free bread for the family members who are avoiding wheat. You don’t have to mention that pumpkin is a healthful vegetable, either. A serving of this dish provides more than half the vitamin A you need for the day. The cranberries and pears add nutritious fruit.

For the vegans, there is an eggless variation, which is just as simple and easy to make as the one with eggs. Once you purée some silken tofu with pumpkin and spice, it disappears. I used aseptic boxed silken tofu, which you can keep on the shelf in the pantry for months. Keep some handy, and you can make this warming breakfast anytime.

Start your day off right with pure comfort in a casserole.


Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of “Big Vegan,” “The Whole Grain Promise” and “Great Bowls of Food.” Find her at