Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pumpkin Bread - Yum!

One of the nicest things about baking in the Fall is the smell of cinnamon wafting through the house.  This pumpkin bread recipe that I got from my girlfriend, Candice, is a wonderfully moist, nutty, cinnamony quick bread which I absolutely adore.  I made it this weekend to bring to a horticultural lecture and it flew off the buffet table!

You're going to need some ingredients:  sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, baking powder, pecans, raisins, water, pumpkin, butter, eggs, vanilla.

Measure out your sugar.  I'm using my favorite 1940s Pyrex bowls.  The big yellow one is the perfect size for this mix.  I also have my wooden spoon.  My dad made it for me when I was just learning to cook.  I love using it for baking.

Add in the flour.

Now the spices - cinnamon, 

Nutmeg - I use a heaping spoon of this (love nutmeg!),


Baking soda,

Baking powder,

I like to chop my own pecans so I can get them the size that I want for whatever I am baking,

I chop them to between 1/4-1/2" pieces.

Into the bowl they go,

then finally the raisins go in.

Mix all these dry ingredients together so the spices are all mingled with the flour and the pecans and raisins are coated.  This way the pecans and raisins won't sink to the bottom of the bread pan when you bake it.

Take the time now to go and preheat the oven.

Now we need to mix up the wet ingredients.  Get out a new bowl for this (I had to use my pyrex green, of course!).

Water.  You could use orange juice here, but for me it is a bit too sweet and ups the acidity.

Pumpkin, the star of the show!  If it weren't for the huge amounts of rain we got this year, I would use ones from my garden.  But we only got one - and we already ate it...in pumpkin bread!

Butter.  We're going to have to melt this - so I chopped it into 1 1/2 Tablespoon pieces to melt evenly.

I put the butter in a glass bowl and popped it into the microwave, 

I'll nuke it for 45 seconds or until it looks like

this.  Almost melted all of the way, but a few big chunks remain.  The butter isn't too hot that it splits and as I stir it to melt the remaining pieces, it will cool down a bit.  This will prevent it from cooking the eggs when I add them in.

Into the wet mix bowl it goes - a nice creamy consistency.

A bit of vanilla.  I'm using a clear vanilla here that my girlfriend Margy brought me from the West Indies.  So, so, so important to use a really good vanilla when you bake - if you can get it.  I usually save the clear vanilla for white baked goods (angel food cake, meringues, swiss meringue frosting), but this is the good vanilla in my pantry, so in it goes.

I cracked the eggs on a flat surface, not on the edge of the bowl.  This way the shell won't break into the egg and the yolk won't get punctured creating a drippy mess.  

See?  No shards.  

They go into a separate bowl first because we use farm fresh organic eggs and I want to check them before I put them in with the rest of the ingredients.  Farm fresh eggs are a definite perk of living in the country!

I'm just beating these lightly with a fork to get the yolk and white mixed together for and even consistency.  I could wait to do this when I mix all of the wet ingredients together, but this will guarantee that I got it right and I won't have streaks of egg in my bread.

Nicely mixed, just a little froth on top.  Just right.

Just pour those into the wet bowl - looks kind of nasty at this point, but it will get better soon!

Mix all of the wet ingredients together.

Now it looks much better - like pumpkin sauce.

So now we have the bowl of wet ingredients and the bowl of dry.

Just plop the wet mix right on top of the dry.

Start folding it in.  Since there's baking powder in the mix, as soon as the liquid hits the dry, the mix is going to start to rise.  So, folding it in quickly is going to be the key at this step.  Also, since the flour will start to turn into a gluey lumpy thick indigestible mass if it gets too much stirring action, folding it in quickly is going to be the key at this step.  

Here it is, folded in nicely.  No big lumps of flour, and still looks kind of fluffy.

I'm using a non-stick loaf pan, but I still gave it a spray with non-stick cooking spray.  I'm going to turn out the loaf when it is still pretty hot (dark pan = hotter loaf) and I don't want the bottom of the loaf staying in the pan while the top of the loaf comes out.  That would be sad.

I split the mix between 2 loaf pans.  I could have filled one up 3/4 of the way, but since this is a heavier quick bread because of all the pumpkin, I want a shorter loaf that will bake in under an hour.

One last little detail - I pushed the batter down low in the middle of the pan, about a 1/2-inch lower than the 2 sides.  Since the loaf will rise more in the middle, the slight divot in the middle will raise up and the loaf will be flat(ter) across the top and bake evenly throughout.  No dry outside and raw inside.

Pop them in the oven.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.

Fresh out of the oven.  A little crack on top, but overall looking quite nice.

Flipped easily out of the pan after 15 minutes and cooling.  Ready just in time to go to the lecture.

Pumpkin Bread:

350 F - 50 minutes - 2 loaves

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 2/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup water
1 can pumpkin
3/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the dry.  Preheat the oven.  Mix the wet.  Mix them together.  Grease the loaf pans.  Pour the mix in the pans.  Put the pans in the oven.  Wait 50 minutes.  Take the pans out of the oven.  Sit them on the counter.  Wait 15 minutes.  Turn the loaves out onto a cooling rack.  Wait 30 minutes.  Wrap a loaf up in parchment, tie with twine, gift it.  Eat the other loaf!

So good for breakfast.  With cinnamon sugar butter.  All melty and warm.


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