Saturday, October 29, 2011

Adventures in Pumpkin Bread

I have never made anything with pumpkin other than a jack-o-lantern at Halloween.  So, when my CSA box arrived this week with a pumpkin inside the box, it was like a personal challenge to find something new to make with it – not only was the pumpkin a little small for carving, but it seemed like it would be a wasted opportunity if I chickened out and went the safe route (though I am looking forward to carving a pumpkin tomorrow in preparation for Halloween). I decided that for my first foray into edible pumpkin goods, it would be fun to make pumpkin bread.

It was definitely an adventure! But I am really glad I took the risk because the end result is so delicious!  I’m not going to do an accounting on this one because I already had all of the ingredients at home (except the eggs), so it would really be pure speculation on my part.

I used a recipe from my Betty Crocker cookbook (I assume the 2006 edition bc I received it as a wedding gift) and then modified it to my tastes.

If you are using a fresh pumpkin, first you will need to make pumpkin puree.

Cut the pumpkin in half horizontally.

Scoop out all the seeds and stringy bits (I’m not so good at getting all the stringy bits out - but I do my best).

Then place each half flesh side down on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with water, and bake at 350 for an hour.

After an hour, pull it out of the oven and let it cool.  Then scoop all the flesh out into a bowl and puree.

Now for the pumpkin bread recipe:

-         Pumpkin puree from 1 small/medium pumpkin (or 1 can pumpkin)
-         1 2/3 cup sugar
-         2/3 cup vegetable oil (I substituted the same amount of apple sauce instead)
-         2 teaspoons vanilla
-         4 large eggs
-         3 cups all purpose flour
-         2 teaspoons baking soda
-         1 teaspoon salt
-         1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-         ½ teaspoon ground cloves
-         ½ teaspoon baking powder
-         ½ cup coarsely chopped nuts or raisins (optional) (I happened to have a bag of trail mix lying around that had walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, and dried apricots - I chopped up 1/2 a cup of that trail mix and it is definitely and amazing addition!)

Move oven rack to a low position so that the tops of the pans will be in the center of the oven.  Grease bottoms only of two 8x4 inch loaf pans (or one 9x5 inch pan).  Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, stir pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well mixed.  Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts (if using) – stir well until there are no lumps in the batter.  Stir in nuts.  Divide batter evenly between the pans. 

Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick (butter knife in my case) comes out clean.  Then let the loaves completely cool on a rack before slicing.

Here is where my adventure began:  I think since I used a whole fresh pumpkin, instead of canned pumpkin, I ended up making more batter than Betty Crocker expected me to make . . . so, my loaf pans were, well, a little too full.  About half an hour in, I smelled something burning and went to check on the bread.  Turns out the batter had risen up over the top of the loaf pans and spilled onto the oven floor.  So I had to take out the loaf pans, and the oven racks and scoop the spilled batter up with a spatula, and then remove the bits that were stuck to the racks.  Then I replaced the racks and the loaf pans and resumed baking.  Fortunately, none of this affected the flavor of the bread.  Once my butter knife came out clean, I let the bread cool on a rack.  And now I am enjoying a slice of homemade pumpkin bread with a latte made by yours truly!

 * A note on the photos I use in my blog.  All these pictures are taken by me, using my Sony Cybershot (pink) camera. Yes, that is a Han Solo bobblehead in the background on my counter.  Please excuse any flour/cooking mess in my kitchen that happens to appear in the shots.  I try to "keep it real" by not staging my pictures too much.  :)

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