Nothing says fall quite like the sight of farm stands and grocery stores overflowing with apples, pumpkins, gourds, squashes and indian corn. The warm spices of apple cider mulling and fires crack-a-lackin'! It warms my little heart just thinking about it. This month's issue of Gourmet features the latest cookbook selection The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table. Cindy has been a contributing instructor at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, California where I attended cooking school. Her classes are known to sell out fast, so if you're ever in the "neighborhood", I would definitely recommend signing up for a class!
The featured recipe (Pumpkin Walnut Bread) caught my eye and as I normally do, I folded the corner of the recipe with the intention of baking. Earlier this week, I finally got to the recipe - simple, easy and oh so worth the wait (for a quick bread, why does it take an hour to bake?). It tasted like pumpkin pie, sweet, but not rich, moist and tender. A fine crumb indeed. It didn't even require a douse of salted butter, but if you were feeling dangerous I wouldn't be opposed to it. Accompanied with hot cider, a cup of Old Crown Roasters coffee, or even a spot of tea would compliment this scrumptious midnight snack, breakfast treat, or fall dessert.
Pumpkin Walnut Bread
by Cindy Mushet and Sur La Table
2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup (2 3/4 ounces) water
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 cup (9 ounces) canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup neutral-flavor vegetable oil (such as canola)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts
9 by 5-inch Loaf Pan, Parchment Paper, Large Bowl, Whisk, Medium Bowl, SIlicone or Rubber Spatula, Cooling Rack, Serrated Knife
Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter or high-heat canola-oil spray and line it with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch beyond the edge of both sides of the pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and blend well.
Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir until they are evenly distributed. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and level the top.
Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. To serve, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife. Any leftovers should be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Getting ahead Pumpkin Walnut Bread freezes beautifully for up to 8 weeks when double-wrapped in plastic and placed inside a resealable plastic freezer bag. Defrost, still wrapped in plastic to avoid condensation on the cake, for at least 2 hours before serving.