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I’ve said it before: I love all things pumpkin. It’s a bit of an obsession. It seems like every time I go to the grocery store lately, I pick up a can or two of Libby’s pumpkin.

Pumpkin bread is pretty much the epitome of pumpkin-y goodness to me. Even more than pumpkin pie, if you can believe that. I do love pumpkin pie, but I’m more of a cake person than a pie person, and pumpkin bread is like a cake that you get to eat during dinner. Wee! And you can have it for breakfast, guilt-free. Why? Because it’s pumpkin bread, not pumpkin cake. Heh. Perfectly legitimate breakfast option. Of course, if you were to slather on a nice layer of cream cheese frosting, it would be very cake-like… but let’s not blur those lines too much, shall we? It’s bread, and therefore, I get to eat a thick slab of it during dinner and still get to have dessert too.

This is my favorite pumpkin bread recipe. It’s moist and tender and spicy. It’s everything pumpkin bread should be! This makes two loaves, perfect for giving away as a holiday hostess present, or to your neighbors, or to bring in to work to make your coworkers love you… Or just keep them both for yourself! The loaves freeze well, wrapped in a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of foil.

Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from AllRecipes.com

 

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup white whole wheat flour*

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 10-inch loaf pans**.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
  3. Bake for about 60 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

*You can use 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour and leave out the white whole wheat, but it makes it a bit healthier and you can’t taste it. So if you have it, use it, but if you don’t, you don’t need to run out and buy a bag!

**You can also make muffins with this recipe, which I haven’t done yet, but the recipe should yield about 24 muffins.

This recipe is a bit of foodie kismet – it came up in my Google reader shortly after I came across the recipe for Autumn Harvest Chili in Better Homes and Gardens, and I knew the two would be perfect together. Chili and cornbread are made for each other, so it makes sense that an autumnal twist on cornbread would be delicious alongside an autumnal twist on chili. And I was right. I love cornbread, I love pumpkin bread, and now – I love pumpkin cornbread.

And if you decide to make some pumpkin cornbread, may I suggest some of this action:

Oh yes.

Mmm…

Gimme some of that!

Seriously, you guys. This is great cornbread. Perfect for pairing with any fall recipe.

Pumpkin Cornbread

From Two Peas and Their Pod

1 cup all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg

½ cups brown sugar

1 cup cornmeal (not stoneground)

2 large eggs

1 cup pumpkin puree

¼ cups olive oil

1 Tablespoon molasses

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease an 8×8″ baking dish.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices, brown sugar, and cornmeal.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs, and then stir in the pumpkin, oil, and molasses.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined, and then pour the batter into the pan, smoothing out the top as much as possible. The batter will be quite thick.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I wasn’t planning on making anything special for today, since my husband’s birthday was the day before yesterday so we have plenty of cake and dinner leftovers. But then I remembered my friend K sent me this recipe last year and I still hadn’t tried it and I love Irish soda bread but hardly ever have it. Plus, this recipe comes from K’s Northern Irish friend’s mother. An authentic, straight-from-Ireland recipe? Sold!

This is a quick bread, so it came together… quickly. Whisk together dry ingredients, add raisins, mix together wet ingredients, add those to the dry, plop it in a loaf pan, scoot it into the oven, and you’re done. Most Irish soda breads I’ve seen are round, not loaf-shaped, but I’m sure you could make this in a round cake pan, you’d probably just have to adjust the baking time.

This is a delicious bread! Soft, almost spongy in texture (in a good way!), moist and slightly sweet. I imagine there are about as many Irish soda bread recipes out there as there are Irish families. I’m used to a drier, more crumbly kind of soda bread. I like both kinds, actually. The recipe calls for 3 cups of all-purpose flour but I used 2 cups AP and 1 cup of white whole wheat flour – I don’t think you can detect that there’s whole wheat in it.

Irish Soda Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour (or 2 cups AP and 1 cup white whole wheat)

2/3 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ¼ cups golden raisins (half a box) or regular raisins if you prefer

2 large eggs

2 cups of buttermilk (not too fresh, it gets better as it approaches the expiration date)

2 tablespoons of butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a large loaf pan (mine is about 10 x 5 and fit perfectly).
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Add the raisins and mix well. Combine the buttermilk, eggs and melted butter in a small bowl – mix well with the whisk.
  3. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula until just moistened. DO NOT OVERMIX – it will not taste as good and lose its texture.
  4. Dump into prepared pan and bake for about an hour. (Mine took 55 minutes.) Test for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Serve warm or cold with some good butter.

 

This story starts with a recipe for sourdough. A recipe that my husband found somewhere on the Internets, one that didn’t call for fancy sourdough starters ordered from Amazon or for making a mother – a process that seems to take a long time, involving making a sponge and keeping it like a pet in the fridge, feeding it daily doses of flour to keep it alive, tending to it delicately for days (weeks?) until it’s ready to make bread.

And James insisted that we had to make it. See, he’s from California, the land of bountiful sourdough, and we used to be able to pick up a loaf of good sourdough whenever we wanted. But now that we’re in Massachusetts, the fountain of sourdough has pretty much dried up – until he found the recipe. This simple, two-day long recipe that would yield two loaves – we could have sourdough whenever we wanted!

And since this was James’ project, he was in charge. He created the sponge and let it rise on top of the fridge (a consistently warm spot in the kitchen), he did the sticky kneading, the forming the dough into loaves and giving them an egg wash, everything. I mostly helped by taking pictures.

And the bread turned out beautifully.

And we were both quite proud!

Unfortunately, they did not taste as pretty as they looked. They had a dense, even crumb (a result, we discovered after some quick Google research, of punching down the dough after the first rise. If you want your bread to be airy and rustic, don’t punch it down!) and a bland flavor. It was boring, boring bread. That is, until after we swallowed our sample pieces – and then we realized it had what can only be described as a mildly offensive aftertaste.

…I don’t want to talk about it.

Yes I do. It was bad. Pretty, pretty bad.

And so, after being up to midnight on a Tuesday (!!) to bake this bread, we ended up tossing it all in the garbage.

And we started over. No, not with the sourdough recipe. That went into the trash with the weird-tasting bread that it spawned. No, we started over with a recipe I could trust, from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. (That book is bomber, by the way.) Anyway, we went with a straightforward recipe for a sandwich bread that we could make in one day. And I was fairly certain that the bread would be great, because those folks at America’s Test Kitchen really know what they’re doing.

You know what? I was right – it’s delicious! It’s hearty with a great nutty, very slightly sweet flavor, and the oats on top and the sunflower seeds inside definitely keep things interesting. This is not a cardboard-tasting wheat bread, that’s for sure. And yes, this has a tight crumb, but that’s what we want in a sandwich bread, also it’s tender, not dense like the sourdough flop.

The recipe is nice because it uses a handy shortcut for getting those 7 grains into the dough – instead of adding each grain type individually (and therefore having to buy seven bags of grain for less than a quart cup of each), you just need one bag of Bob’s Red Mill Seven Grain Cereal. First you soften up the grains by steeping them in boiling water for half an hour, until they turn into a nice 110-degree porridge. (The Family Baking Book taught me that anything over 110 degrees will start to kill the yeast.)

The dough is very sticky, so you will need a stand mixer to put it together.

Once the mixer has mixed it all together, you knead it a little bit and form it into a ball.

Place the ball into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise.

Then you shape the dough into a square and roll it up.

Pinch the seam together, then place the dough seam-side down in the greased pan, and let it rise again.

Then you sprinkle the bread with oats! I really liked this touch, but despite the fact that you slick up the bread with some melted butter first, the oats didn’t really stick to the loaf. A lot of them fell off when I turned the loaf out onto a wire rack to cool, and more fell off when I put it in a plastic bag later. I’ll try pressing the oats gently into the surface next time, but I don’t know how much of a difference that will make.

See? Oats everywhere. But mm, what a pretty loaf.

And this is good bread. And photogenic!

And my husband was very proud! So there’s a happy ending to this story, and it’s this:

The FABulous tuna sandwiches we had for lunch the next day! Yum yum yum.

Multigrain Bread

From America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

Makes 1 9-inch loaf (or one 10-inch loaf, I’ve discovered)

1 cup (5 ounces) 7 grain hot cereal mix (ATK recommends Bob’s Red Mill)

2 cups boiling water (boil first, then measure)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for brushing

3 tablespoons honey

2 1/2 – 3 cups (12 1/2 – 15 ounces) all purpose flour

1 cup (5 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour

1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup unsalted pumpkin or sunflower seeds

1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats or quick-cooking oats

1. Stir the cereal mix and boiling water together in a medium bowl and let stand, stirring occasionally, until the mixture resembles a thick porridge and is just warm (about 110 degrees), about 30 minutes. Stir in the melted butter and honey.

2. Combine 2 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt in a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the cereal mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.

3. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes, adding the seeds during the final minute of mixing. If after 4 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/2 cup flour, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan (I used a 10 by five-inch pan). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gently press it into a 9 (or 10)-inch square. Roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch the seam closed. Place the loaf, seam side down, in the prepared pan. Mist the loaf with vegetable oil spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size and the dough barely springs back when poked with a knuckle, 45 to 75 minutes.

6. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the loaf lightly with melted butter, sprinkle with the oats, then spray lightly with water. (Most of the oats fell off after baking, maybe press them lightly into the top?) Bake until golden and the center of the bread registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the loaf halfway through baking (mine took closer to 50 minutes). Cool the loaf in the pan for 15 minutes, then flip out onto a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before serving.

To Make Ahead:

In step 4, do not let the dough rise, but refrigerate it overnight or up to 16 hours; let the dough sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then continue with step 5. (I’m interested to try this method next time!)

Suzi

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