It doesn’t take long for me to jump aboard the pumpkin band wagon. Once the month of October hits, all I see is orange: orange leaves, orange sunsets, orange food.
This damn good pumpkin bread is decadent and moist and was the offering in last week’s Give It Away— half of what I bake each week goes to whomever you tell me could use a little something sweet in their day–and was delivered by me to a lovely and very happily surprised mom/grandma.
The aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg simmering down with pumpkin in the kitchen is so warm and soothing that it takes the sting out of summer’s leaving. You’ll find the traditional pumpkin bread ingredients in this post with a few surprises (okay, cream cheese!). However, and this is a big HOWEVER, leave it to Cooks Illustrated to find a way to make pumpkin taste even more autumnal and less like the can from whence it came. This recipe has you cooking the pumpkin down with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, the season’s beloved trinity of spices, into an almost custard before combining with the remaining ingredients.
This makes two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch loaves or one 9×5-inch loaf pan with extra batter to make muffins.
Damn, that’s good pumpkin bread!, adapted from Cooks Illustrated October 2012 issue:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Butter pans (bottoms and sides). After you butter the pans you can lay a piece of parchment paper in the bottom and butter again.
For the Streusel:
- 5 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- *1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
*lay a single layer of walnuts in a non-stick pan on top of the stove and warm until you can smell them. Stay close, they can burn quickly. Take off the heat and when cool, turn them out onto a cutting board and with your chef’s knife, give them a rough chop. Leave them as big or as small as you would like them to feel in your mouth.
Into a small bowl mix all this together using your fingers (not hands) until you see what looks like wet sand.
For the pumpkin bread:
Into a medium bowl, whisk together:
- 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Next, into a medium saucepan, combine:
- 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg (ground is fine)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
Cook the pumpkin mix on medium heat, stirring constantly until reduced to a cup and a half. This took me approximately 8 minutes. I set a timer.
Then remove the pot from the heat and stir in until combined:
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces (at room temperature)
Important: Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes. This will melt the cream cheese.
In the meantime, whisk together:
- 4 large eggs (at room temperature)
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (give the container a good shake first)
After those 5 minutes, add the egg mixture to the pot and give it all a good whisking!
Gently fold in the flour mixture just until combined. Small lumps of flour will remain. Do not over mix. This will make the difference in your pumpkin bread turning out moist and light. No gummy texture!
Ready to Bake:
Scrape batter into pans. Fill each no less than half-way, but leave 1/2 inch of space from the top.
Into the oven. Start checking for doneness after 25 minutes. It’s done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. About 35 minutes.