Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Smashing Pumpkin and Walnut Quick-Bread

This past Halloween I spent some time watching scary movies (Skeleton Key with Kate Hudson freaked me out) and trick-or-treating with the kids. I also ate too much leftover candy and cooked fresh pumpkin for the first time.


Thankfully cooking pumpkin is a simple thing to do. To make a pumpkin purée for this quick-bread, I scraped out about 4 cups of flesh from the pumpkin we carved for Halloween and steamed it for 20 minutes in a steamer pot. Once it had softened I puréed it with a hand blender. Half the puree was destined for this recipe and the other half for the freezer (apparently it freezes well). If you’re not into making your own purée, canned pumpkin can also be used in this recipe.


Halloween has a way of heightening my senses and energy levels so I selected some equally revved-up music to fill my kitchen while baking. I went with an alternative mix I put together back in my university days. It included songs from Ministry, Nirvana and I Mother Earth (Good Canadian Band). There were also a few song selections from the Smashing Pumpkins which seemed somewhat appropriate as I smashed a few pumpkins as an inconsiderate teenage trick-or-treater back in the day. In my defense I would only take issue with your pumpkin if you gave me an apple. Not an excuse, just an explanation and a bit of insight into my cruel actions.

While making the pumpkin bread I called an audible and added in 1/3 cup of sweetened dried cranberries just before mixing the batter. The cranberries are totally optional but I was happy with the call because they added some color and complimented the other flavors in the bread. Looks like I’ll be cooking-up (not smashing) more pumpkins so I can freeze the purée and make more pumpkin bread throughout the winter months!

Smashing Pumpkin and Walnut Quick-Bread
Pumpkin bread with chopped walnuts and sweetened dried cranberries

Instruments

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup wheat bran
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp each baking soda, salt and ground cinnamon
¼ tsp each ground ginger and ground cloves
1 cup mashed pumpkin (canned or fresh)
2 eggs
½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
½ cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Lyrics
Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, wheat bran, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and ground cloves. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, yogurt, oil and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Add to dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. Gently fold in walnuts and dried cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake in a 350º F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Volume: Makes 1 loaf, 12 slices

TIP: For more pumpkin flavor use 11/4 cups mashed pumpkin and reduce the yogurt to 1/4 cup.

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The Kitchen Roadie
brent@cookapalooza.com

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