Monday, October 19, 2009

Seriously yummy pumpkin bread

There are fat pumpkins everywhere you look at this time of the year and it's time to make two of my favorite treats, pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. I've made my own pumpkin puree by cooking down fresh pumpkin, but seriously, the canned variety is just as good and a thousand times easier. Make sure you use pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie mix which already contains spices. I'm sure you could adapt this recipe to using the mix by omitting the spices listed here, but I doubt the result would taste as good as the bread made with your own spices.

This recipe is an adaptation of the pumpkin bread recipe given in Camille Glenn's 1986 cookbook, The Heritage of Southern Cooking. I love this cookbook. The old photos and commentary are fascinating and I can easily spend an hour just leafing through the book. One of the changes I made to this recipe was to use a mix of granulated and brown sugars. I had planned on using molasses for a deeper flavor, but didn't have any on hand when I made the recipe. Another change was to use five spice powder and ginger in addition to nutmeg. You could use pumpkin pie spice or just cinnamon if you don't have five spice powder, but I like my pumpkin spicy. Also, the original recipe calls for water and I used buttermilk instead. (Buttermilk makes everything better.) The nuts could be toasted before adding them to the batter for even deeper flavor. I'd try black walnuts with this recipe if I had them on hand.

This is a tender and richly spiced loaf. Well, who are we kidding? This is really cake, and a yummy one at that.

Fall Pumpkin Bread

1 stick butter at room temperature (life is too short for fake butter!)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup buttermilk or water
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the eggs and continue to beat until the batter is thick and smooth. Combine the floor, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in a separate small bowl and stir with a whisk. Add the flour mixture, the pumpkin, and the buttermilk alternately to the creamed butter and eggs. Do not overbeat. Fold in the nuts with a spatula. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased standard loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes, then check for doneness using a cake tester. Don't be alarmed if your loaf takes 90 minutes to bake as the moisture in the brown sugar and pumpkin may vary and increase the baking time. Loaf is done when the tester comes out dry. Remove pan from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes, then turn out of a rack. Cool thoroughly before slicing.

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