delicious discourse

pumpkin for the soul

Posted in Uncategorized by delicious:discourse on October 29, 2008

When you live in a place like Texas and the only real indication of the arrival of fall is the increasing shortness of daylight, you need other reminders to get you in the mood, otherwise winter arrives and hits you rock-solid loaf of quickbread. Sometimes there is no easing into the 40-degree weather, it just happens. We Texans are just now getting our first fall weather here in Austin, which may be why I was inspired to make pumpkin quick bread for my weekly Sunday baking therapy.

Gourmet’s Cookbook Club pick for October was The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet, paired with a Pumpkin Walnut Bread recipe, which is the recipe I chose to feed my Sunday soul. My first taste of pumpkin for this fall season was about a month ago when I smartly ordered Kerbey Lane’s seasonal pumpkin pancakes for brunch. Orange and dense with pumpkin and just a hint cinnamon, they were the perfect cue that we had entered into fall; that in other parts of the country and world leaves were changing, people were wearing sweaters, and making comforting soups. Maybe it was the 90-degree heat or the fact that I was going out on Lake Austin that afternoon, but I was oblivious, even though they were deliciously tasty and inspiring. I have been thinking pumpkin thoughts ever since, which is why when I stumbled across this recipe it seemed like fate.

As usual with my quick breads, I slightly undercooked the loaf to ensure it would be moist and ever-so-doughy in the middle; it is best when it sort of melts in your mouth. Also, I recommend using organic pumpkin puree. Make sure pumpkin is the only ingredient.

Pumpkin Walnut Bread
The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet
Makes1 loaf

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter.

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t allspice
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground ginger
1/4 t salt
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly blended.
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup water
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and water.
1 1/2 cups sugar
Add the sugar and blend well.
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup neutral-flavor vegetable oil (such as canola)
1 t pure vanilla extract
Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and blend well.
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir until they are evenly distributed. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and level the top.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Any leftovers should be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Getting ahead Pumpkin Walnut Bread freezes beautifully for up to 8 weeks when double-wrapped in plastic and placed inside a resealable plastic freezer bag. Defrost, still wrapped in plastic to avoid condensation on the cake, for at least 2 hours before serving.

Photograph by Romulo Yanes, Courtesy of Gourmet

Photograph by Romulo Yanes, Courtesy of Gourmet

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