Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pumpkin Week: Pumpkin Bread (and slaughter nails manicure)

Before Halloween weekend, I hadn't had a weekend with no plans, visitors, or traveling in... I don't know... months? So I was very excited to stay in and clean, cook, and sleep. And that's pretty much all I did, with the addition of giving myself possibly my favorite manicure ever: slaughter nails. They are really easy to do, and I think I am going to use the same technique in the future with other colors since I don't think I can rock slaughter nails year-round. You can get a tutorial on Refinery29, but it's basically just painting your nails white then using a straw to blow the red on top.

Back to cooking. The next pumpkin recipe I knew I would make is pumpkin bread. I love pumpkin bread, and it's a very easy thing to make. I am terrible at baking, and even I can handle this recipe.

The below recipe is for one 9-inch loaf.  The pumpkin I roasted yielded enough for two loaves, so I made two: one raisin and walnut and one chocolate chip.  For the chocolate chip version, replace the walnuts and raisins with 1 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Oh, and if you are roasting your own pumpkin, all you need to do is pre-heat the oven to 350F, cut the pumpkin in half and clean out the seeds and strings, place on a foil lined cookie sheet skin side up, and roast for ~45 minutes or until a knife pierces the pumpkin very easily.  I think I ended up roasting mine for ~55 minutes.  Then remove the pumpkin from the skin and mash.  I like to do it while the pumpkin is still hot because it is easier to get out of the skin and mash.  But be careful not to burn your hands.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 cups pumpkin, mashed (or 1 15-ounce can pumpkin)
1 cup sugar
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped coarse
1 cup raisins

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle positions and heat over to 350 degrees.

2. Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

3. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ginger together in large bowl. Whisk pumpkin, sugar, melted butter, eggs and vanilla together in separate bowl until frothy.

4. Gently fold pumpkin mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in nuts and cranberries or chocolate chips. Batter will be very thick.

5. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth surface. Bake until golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool at least 1 hour before serving. (Bread can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.)

I didn't check how much sugar I had before I started the recipe, and I didn't have enough white sugar, so I subbed a cup of brown sugar.  I think it improved the recipe, personally, and in fact, next time I make pumpkin bread, I am going to use half white and half brown sugar.

Also, I like chocolate chips an immeasurable amount more than I like raisins and walnuts. I flat out don't like walnuts, and raisins are only so so. But I prefer the raisin walnut bread to the chocolate chip. Interesting, no?

Lastly, This bread is really good with some cream cheese on it. In fact, I kind of wish I had made cream cheese frosting for it. There's always next time, I suppose.

I just have to note one thing pertaining to one reason I don't like to bake, especially things that are frosted. It is very difficult to frost without getting crumbs into the frosting and ruining the aesthetic of the baked good. It took me an absurd amount of time to put cream cheese on those pieces of bread and not have any crumbs or streaks of chocolate showing. And crumbs are showing. Please don't look too closely.

Bon appetit.