Monday, January 18, 2016

A Remade Pumpkin Loaf Really Stands Out

Pumpkin Loaf or Bread is delicious. By its very nature it will be moist and tender. With a good amount of canned pumpkin or other squash puree, moistness is almost (but not quite) guaranteed. Still, sometimes I just can't help myself and I feel the need to tinker. 

Pumpkin Nut Loaf, straight from the oven
Last week I finally got around to baking and pureeing the huge Jarrahdale squash I had bought in late September. The beautiful blue-green color of the large squash had begun to turn to light orange, ripening itself over the months. This is by far the longest I have allowed a squash like this to set before doing something with it. Since we went away over the holidays and then things got upped a bit last minute to leaving a week earlier than planned, there were many things left un-done. The squash was really large. I never weighed it, but once baked and pureed, I got 14 cups of beautiful, bright golden puree. Since I still had a few packages of squash puree from last year, I figured it was time to use some of it.

Pumpkin Nut Loaf, sliced

The museum had a closing reception for an art exhibit yesterday, and I was asked to make something to serve at the reception. "Pumpkin" bread was my thought. I had a perfectly good recipe for Pumpkin bread already (find that recipe here), but like I said, sometimes I just feel the need to tinker with a recipe and see what happens. I sat to look at the recipe I had used previously, which used 1 cup of pumpkin or squash puree. When I puree my squash, I divide it up in 2-cup batches in freezer zip-top bags. If I was going to thaw 2 cups of squash, then I needed to use 2 cups. With that in mind, I opted to double the recipe. One loaf for the reception and one loaf for us. 

As an aside, while at the art reception yesterday (a mixed bag of art styles by artists from all over the state), I met a most talented man named Jim Green. He makes bronze sculptures, and the one that was exhibited at the museum was called Marsh Song. It was of a lone cattail, with a Marsh Wren perched on the head of the cattail. The piece was about 2 feet tall. It had such a serenity to it, and yet I could just "feel" that moment of startling flight as the bird would take off. It was one of the most lovely things I have seen. We talked for a long time. I highly recommend checking out his website: to see some of his excellent work.

Back to the Recipe

The next thing I noticed is that white sugar was used in the old recipe, so I went for brown sugar. The spice amounts were also increased, and then I added in sour cream to the recipe. The brown sugar and the sour cream are going to make for a moist loaf anyway. I lowered the overall fat content by using half oil and half applesauce. I also added in a tiny mount of black strap molasses. In addition to the nuts, I used up a half cup of  some "Heath" Bits 'O Brickle Toffee Bits that were left over from a previous recipe. On further reflection, I might have to make this recipe again and substitute some of the Maple Flav-r Bits from King Arthur Flour. It strikes me that the burst of maple would go very well indeed. I happen to have a lot of flavorings that are not in everyone's cabinets, and I used 1 teaspoon of cream cheese flavoring with 1/2 teaspoon butterscotch flavoring. It would be just as good to use a teaspoon or two of vanilla.

The recipe is very easily mixed together using just a spatula. Here is the recipe with its makeover:

Pumpkin Nut Loaf

Pumpkin Nut Loaf, served

makes two 8 x 4-inch loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cloves

2 2/3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil)
1/2 cup applesauce
4 eggs
2 cups pumpkin or squash puree
2 teaspoons molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup ground nuts (I used walnuts)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cups Toffee Bits (Maple Flav'r Bites, or raisins, or dates)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8 x 4-inch loaf pans with cooking spray. If desired, as added precaution, line the pans with parchment.

In one bowl whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the brown sugar with the oil and applesauce. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking to incorporate one before adding the next. Whisk in the pumpkin puree with the molasses and vanilla. Once completely combined, stir in the nuts, sour cream and any other addition desired. Once well combined, divide the batter between the two loaf pans. It will fill the pans pretty high. Bake the loaves for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out almost clean. A few crumbs are fine. Allow the pans to rest for about 5 minutes, then remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.