I apologize for the gap in time between apple love and pumpkin love. The original plan was so very different. This month in between my last post was filled with more apple recipes, more pumpkin recipes, maybe even a combo-blow-your-mind recipe. But instead, that gap was filled with life stuff. Yeah. Sorry. The gap was filled with saying final goodbyes to my best friend, with moving (running) away from a moldy house and making a new home (just finished painting), with finally admitting that student loans are actually loans, and not just kind gifts from a government that cares so much about my education. And then, consequently, ample time was spent trembling in the corner in fear and panic. Yay life!
Not to be a downer. I have also rekindled other ambitions that have fallen to the wayside these past months and years. My violin is so creaky after five years of sleep that it wails like a nauseous seal when I try to tune it. And is akin to the moans of a cat in heat when I play it…but I’m working on that. Playing your instrument is like riding your bike- you don’t forget. But if bike riding generated music, after five years of dormancy its sound would depreciate from Rachmaninoff to Spice Girls. There’s a lot of reacquainting to be done. With all this then, there’s a lot more stress relief that needs to happen via mix and chop and bake and smell. And I have only just started breaking in the new kitchen.
Now, there have been experiments and baking in said gap, but there has either been no camera handy, no recipe used/written, or it was plain unworthy of a remake. The hope is that this month will bear more success, and more organization on my part. My cookies won’t end up like pockets of cake (ew), my pie will be written into a recipe, and my fusion-ey experiments will end up suspiciously mouthwatering. Yay life!
For now, let me give you this simple comfort bread. After stubbing your toes on moving boxes, febreezing wet dog out of your craigslist couch (stealthy sale, you bastards!), sitting on hold with Wells Fargo for 30 minutes only to be told to call again later, and getting weepy over old pictures, well. A warm cut of this spiced bread and a blanket is all you need to settle your nerves. Roasting your real (that’s right, it doesn’t naturally come in a can) pumpkin in olive oil and mashing it yourself gives the bread a homespun texture. Like when you find little nuggets of potato in your mashed potatoes and gravy. The best bites. And the olive oil leaves an earthy suggestion amidst the sweet bread, keeping it moist its entire lifespan.
This bread is both breakfast and dessert. Breakfast in the sense that it is made with whole wheat flour and freshly pureed pumpkin and no butter. You could even throw a tablespoon or two of ground flax seed in for your fiber fill. But it is dessert in its own right, because combining brown sugar and honey in one pan makes you feel unfettered and self-indulgent– like Winnie the Pooh on a Friday night. You could cut the cinnamon sugar topping out, but don’t tell me about it.
So off with you to fill your house with the best smells of the season your oven can produce. And accept my apologies (excuses) for a long bout of silence. It will not last! I want to use my new kitchen too badly for that.
1 1/4 cup pumpkin purée (from you very own roasted pumpkin)
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
scant 1/4 cup sugar plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon, for topping
To Make the Pumpkin Purée:
Ahead of time, be it the day before or a couple hours before, prepare your pumpkin. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rinse, halve and gut your pumpkin. Save the seeds for roasting if you like. Chop your pumpkin into large chunks about the size of your palm. Lightly rub with olive oil and place on a roasting pan. Cover with foil and roast for approximately 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the thickest sections comes out easily. Set aside to cool. When your pumpkin chunks are cool enough to handle, gently carve off skins with a paring knife. They want to fall off and if your pumpkin is cooled enough, they may just fall off with a little prodding.
Purée your pumkin in a food processor until smooth. Or, if you do not have one (I didn’t for years and still mashed my own pumpkin) mash as best you can with a potato masher. Set aside until cooled to room temperature, or refrigerate, covered, for up to 4 days.
To Make the Bread:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8.5 x 4.5″ loaf pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine pumpkin purée, honey, and brown sugar until smooth. Add vegetable oil. Beat your eggs together, and add to the bowl. Combine remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and gradually sift them into your pumpkin mixture. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
Stir 1 teaspoon of cinnamon into a scant quarter cup sugar. Sprinkle lightly, or heavily, atop the bread batter.
Bake your bread for about 1 hour, or up to 1.20 hours, depending on your oven. Bread is done when a knife comes out clean at the center, the sides are pulling away from the edges of the pan, and the center feels slightly firm and springy to the touch.
Cool for about 5 minutes before turning the bread out onto a cooling rack. Eat plain, with a dollop of butter (because you wanted butter in this all along) or with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Yep, I’m planting that last one in your head. Just do it.