Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Playing with Pumpkin

It's been a pumpkin filled week here in my kitchen. I've had several pie pumpkins to cook up and mash and put in the freezer for future use. And of course, I couldn't cook up that pumpkin without doing a little something with it first. First I made those Spiced Pumpkin Waffles the other day for dinner. Boy were they good, and I even blogged about them over at Kids Cuisine this morning. I had one cup extra of pumpkin from that though, and needed to do something with it. I decided that pumpkin bread would be the ticket, and as luck would have it, it was recommended to me to try the pumpkin bread recipe in King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking book.

I was completely skeptical about this bread being good. I'm just not a fan of the flavor of whole wheat. I use it, but when I make bread I use some whole wheat and some white flour to balance the flavor. But I decided it was worth a try and began combining ingredients. It's a fairly straightforward quick bread, just calling for whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. I did make one change which I would do again in a second. The recipe called for a stick of butter, and I decided that I wanted to use some canola oil instead. I'd never just swapped the two before, but I really didn't see why I couldn't. I swapped it evenly, 1/2 cup of oil for the butter, and then decided on Craisins for my add-in with the nuts.

The bread is very good. At first bite, you can taste that this bread is made with wheat flour, but then the warm spices and pumpkin flavor take over, and tastes great. And actually, I made this bread without the vanilla, because I didn't realize I was out, and I suspect had I added the vanilla, that slightly wheaten taste would completely disappear. So this bread is a winner. With the whole grains, nuts, cranberries, and heart-healthy oil, this Pumpkin Bread is actually quite healthy in terms of a quick bread. In fact, I need to go slice off a piece or two for breakfast this morning.
Pumpkin Bread
from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

2 cups whole wheat flour, traditional or white whole wheat
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (I used 1/2 cup vegetable oil)
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (9 1/2 ozs) canned pumpkin (I used fresh, cooked and mashed)
3/4 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.

Cream together the butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. beat in the eggs, one at a time, stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl. Beat in the vanilla and pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until evenly moistened. Stir in nuts and raisins, cranberries, or chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, run a table knife around the edges of the pan to make sure the bread isn't sticking, turn it out of the pan and place it on the rack to finish cooling completely before slicing.

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