Thursday, October 18, 2007

Quick Bread Week: Bun Master Pumpkin Bread or Why Lunges Are Now My Favourite Exercise

One of the sure ways I know that fall is really and truly here is when purple cabbage, maroon mums and pumpkins start popping up on the front porches of my neighbors. Even though the weather sure has felt like summer the past two weeks, if the next door neighbor's porch is any indication, fall is really and truly here.

Another way I know that fall is here is I start thinking about all the wonderful things I can make with pumpkin: pumpkin tarts, toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin and ginger bisque, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake bites, and my mother's wonderful pumpkin roll. Funny thing is, one of the foods I never really have liked is pumpkin bread. Every recipe I've ever made or loaf I've ever tasted is heavy, bland, or worse full of stringy pumpkin. Basically, I had given up on pumpkin bread and relegated pumpkin bread to the same culinary purgatory I reserve for zucchini bread and until recently, capers. I turned my nose up at it and refused all offers of pumpkin bread with a polite no thank you.

About a week ago, I stopped by my gym to move a personal training appointment from one week to another. I was feeling less than motivated about going to the gym and needed an extra work out to get my head (and my arse) back in the game. My totally awesome trainer, C was standing at the counter when I walked in and after we chatted a bit, she offered me a piece of pumpkin bread she had baked and brought in to share with the rest of the girls who work at the club. I almost said no and was ready to explain why I didn't like pumpkin bread but decided there wasn't any way I could gracefully say no without hurting her feelings or insulting her so badly that she would make me pay with four sets of those awful twisty things with the medicine ball I hate so much. So, wanting to save myself the agony of the next morning, I said yes and prepared myself to nibble a bit, gracefully exit and throw out the slice when I got home.

After slicing me a piece, she handed it to me and without realizing I was in "food critic mode", I immediately poked at it to see if it was moist and springy or heavy and dense. I then sniffed at it to see if there were any spices in the bread. Since C and I talk a lot about food and cooking while she is mean guiding me during my work out, C stood there chatting about the recipe, how she makes it and about the toasted pumpkin seeds she had added for the first time.

I took a nibble and was extremely surprised! This wasn't the typical pumpkin bread I had denigrated for so many years. This was a light, moist, full of the same spices that make pumpkin pie one of my favourite pies any time of the year. I was so amazed at how tasty the bread was that I had to have the recipe. Luckily, all it took to pry this gem of a recipe out of C was to ask!

Phew.... I was pretty sure she was going to make me do an extra set of squats...

C's Stupendously Moist and Light Pumpkin Bread

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/2 c Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c white sugar
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. clove (optional)

Wet Ingredients:
1 c. pumpkin puree (make sure this pumpkin only, not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1/4 c water

Preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Lightly butter either two small (8 x 4) loaf pans or one large (9 x 5) loaf pan(s). Set aside. Mix dry and wet ingredients together to just to blended state. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from the pan to finish cooling.

Some ideas for yummy things to add to the pumpkin bread:

C has added pumpkin seeds within the mixture and on top for some texture as well as mixed cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg and sprinkled on top after 10 minutes of baking.

When I made the two loaves I made into the office today, I added 1/4 tsp of ginger and 1 cup of walnuts. I also frosted one loaf with cream cheese frosting (leaving the other one naked for folks who wanted a healthier options). I think the two loaves were demolished by the office staff in a new land speed record; including one of the founders of the company who came into my office with cream cheese frosting on his chin and gave me a thumbs up all the while going Mmmmm Mmmmm Mmmmm.

Thanks C for a keeper recipe!!