Wednesday, November 25, 2009


For a long time now - years, really - I've been on the hunt for a great pumpkin bread recipe. Most of the ones I've tried have been insipid and sweet, too loaded down with oil to actually bake all the way through without burning to a crisp on top, or just plain boring. Finally, though, I think I've hit gold. Or orange. Or whatever.

Ironically, it's a recipe that's been sitting in my apartment for over a year now. It was featured as part of a review of Cindy Mushet's The Art and Soul of Baking back in the October 2008 issue (which also has a great article about the Wonka-esque effects of a meal at Alinea), and I'm completely in love with it. It, unlike so many other pumpkin bread recipes, features ginger, allspice and cloves - not just allspice and cinnamon. It has a nice balance of spicy and sweet and bakes to the perfect consistency. Like most quickbreads, it's a mix-and-dump affair, which only adds to the appeal. In short, it's awesome.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. I test-drove it (minus the walnuts) at work (where its fragrance perfumed our entire pod within an hour) and at my book club meeting last week, when I sent everyone home with leftovers.

Now it's your turn - enjoy!

Pumpkin Walnut Bread
Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet

The one thing I changed is the amount of ginger - I think a little extra dash really gives the bread a nice zing.

2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup prepared pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F and position the oven rack in the center. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and line it with parchment paper, ensuring the paper extends an inch over the rim on all sides.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger and salt until well-combined. In another, medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the pumpkin, canola oil and vanilla extract and stir until combined.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir with a wooden spoon until the nuts are evenly distributed. Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool completely before slicing. Leftovers should be wrapped in aluminum foil and left at room temperature (where they'll keep for two days) or in the fridge (where they'll keep for four days).

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