Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread - first made September 23, 2007 from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

I haven’t had time to bake as much since I’m getting down to the wire in terms of packing, moving, taking care of the myriad details of switching households, and re-listing my house for sale with a new realtor.  Not to mention I have a day job where we’re in the busiest time of the year and I go into work while it’s still dark and come home when it’s dark.  Yeah, not a lot of baking therapy happening for me just out of sheer time crunch.  So, for now, I will make do with posting some recipes I’ve made before but haven’t written up yet.  My baking challenge will have to wait a little while longer.

Last year around this time, I had blogged about how I hadn’t really liked pumpkin since my only frame of reference was pumpkin pie – which to this day I still don’t like.  But I realized later that it wasn’t the taste of pumpkin that I didn’t like but the texture and occasional over-spicing of pumpkin baked goods that I objected to.  Once I got over my mental block about pumpkin, I started experimenting with different recipes for pumpkin breads.  I tried recipes from Buttercup Bakes at Home, Mary Engelbreit's Sweet Treats Dessert Cookbook and a recipe from Martha Stewart.   So far, Martha wins the battle.  Her recipe for pumpkin bread is easy to make and the result is a yummy bread with a soft, moist texture, just what you want in a quick bread.  These do well packed in lunches or for picnics or teas.  Careful not to underbake (or overbake) it though.  I underbaked mine slightly and while the taste was still good, the bottom part of the loaf was the slightest bit dense and heavy, a sure sign the bread hadn’t baked long enough.  If you look closely at the picture, you can tell how the bottom part of the loaf looks compressed compared to the rest of it.  

I love the smell of pumpkin bread baking in the oven in the fall.  It invokes just general well-being and coziness at being indoors on a cool day.  I don’t live in an area that gets marked seasonal changes and I’m sure my New England friends would laugh at the West Coast version of autumn which is general hot Indian summers interspersed with cooler days that aren’t quite crisp enough to be cold.  Followed by a smattering of rain here and there, just enough to get your car dirty and provide a little relief to your summer-parched-brown lawn.  But still, when fall and genuinely cooler weather roll around, I like making pumpkin bread to get into the proper mindset of the season.

Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pans
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups canned pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
1⅔ cups buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Coat two 8½ -by-4½-inch loaf pans with butter; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt; set mixture aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin purée and both sugars; mix on medium speed until well combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs and oil; mix until incorporated, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl. With mixer on low, add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour, until just combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans; smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Place the pans on a baking sheet. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers come out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Remove loaves from pans and cool completely. Bread can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for up to 4 days.

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