Monday, October 24, 2011

Cinderella Pumpkin Bread

I've been doing quite a bit of work with my friend Jeff the carpenter lately. No matter whether we're building a coldframe, inoculating mushroom logs, fixing that persnickety light in my bathroom, or constructing raised garden beds, our conversations invariably turn to food. (Don't look so surprised....) More often than not I am the one sharing new recipes, which my friend promptly scribbles into his pocket notebook. But a few weeks ago Jeff shared one of his favorite childhood recipes with me: pumpkin bread. And you know I love all things pumpkin. I was delighted. The original iteration had quite a lot of sugar (my teeth hurt reading it), but there was a great base recipe for me to tinker with, and Jeff was very encouraging of my effort to make it a little healthier. After picking up a beautiful, 8-pound Cinderella Pumpkin at the farmers' market a few days ago, I made a couple of loaves. With lots of pumpkin remaining, I made a couple more loaves last night, which ended up in my picnic basket along with a chickpea-chard-couscous salad and a whole mess of apples for today's Food Day Group Picnic downtown.

Moist and delicious, this one was inspired by the original recipe by Margaret Wilkes, handed down by her son to me....

RECIPE: Mom’s Pumpkin Bread Redux
(makes 2 loaves)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 2 loaf pans.

Whisk in large bowl to blend:
• 1 cup all purpose flour
• 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
• ½ cup brown sugar
• 2 TBSP ground flaxseed (you can grind whole flaxseed in a coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle)
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 tsp nutmeg
• ½ tsp ground cloves
• ½ tsp ground allspice

Add in:
• 1 cup apple sauce
• ½ cup olive oil
• 2/3 cup water
• 4 eggs
• 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
• 1-2 TBSP maple syrup
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 cups roasted pumpkin (To roast pumpkin: Cut a fresh pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, roast at 400°F for an hour or so until soft enough to scoop out and mash.)

Stir just until incorporated. (Do not overmix.) Pour half of batter into each of the two prepared baking pans. Bake for about 1 hour, until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Run a butter knife around the perimeter of the loaf pan to loosen, then cool loaves on a wire rack.

For a fancy, more dessert-y experience, toast slices of pumpkin bread in the oven, then drizzle on a glaze made by blending the following:
• 8 oz package of cream cheese
• 1 tsp lemon juice
• 1/4 - 1/2 cup powdered sugar
• sometimes I add a splash of cream or a few TBSP butter

No matter how you slice it, this pumpkin bread is downright delicious. Especially alongside a good cup of coffee or tea during a blustery afternoon. Without the frosting, it's pretty darn healthy. (But c'mon, a little frosting isn't going to hurt anyone.) Now go out and get yourself a pumpkin and get baking!

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