Tag Archives: pumpkin

Skip the Bananas, Add Pumpkin: Nut Bread

It’s not that I don’t have two ripe bananas, it’s just that desire for a fall pumpkin flavor that inspires this play on my favorite banana bread. I stole a can of pumpkin from my dog’s pantry (she gets one teaspoon a day), but I only need 1 cup of it. I’ve looked around the web for the quantity of a single banana and 1 mashed banana is about 1/3 cup; it would be 2/3 cup for two bananas, but sometimes I use three, so I’m going with a cup of pumpkin. Canned pumpkin has about the same consistency as mashed banana, so it shouldn’t affect the bread’s outcome (I say with a little trepidation). I’m going to substitute brown sugar for the white sugar, though, and that could have a big change—a good one, I hope. The last change will be adding the spices I normally put in my pumpkin pie.

The loaves cracked in an interesting way, sort of all over, like a molasses cookie, instead of with one big center crack. I couldn’t wait to try it and was pleased with the combination of pumpkin and fresh ginger, which adds a little bite. The texture was moist, maybe more so than the original banana version, and just what I want in a fall nut bread.

Pumpkin Nut Bread

  • Servings: 2 4x8 inch loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°

Grease and flour two 4″ x 8″ loaf pans

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated (adds a nice bite)

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

  1. Cream the butter and sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. Add the pumpkin and beat until incorporated. Stir in spices.
  4. Add the flour, soda, and salt, mixing well—this makes a fairly stiff dough. Stir in nuts. Divide into two greased and floured pans and bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes, checking to see that the edges do not burn and that the center is done.
  5. Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes before turning out. Cool thoroughly before slicing (good for you if you can do that). For the best flavor, wrap and store overnight before slicing and eating.

The Pumpkin Pies are Done

There are just two of us, so two pies seem unnecessary. We’ll just have to deal with it, I guess.

I make a variety of pie crusts, some with lard, some with solid shortening, some with butter, and some with combinations of all these. Today I made Martha Stewart’s “Pâte Brisée” (The Martha Stewart Cookbook, New York: Clarkson Potter, 19995. p. 4), an all butter crust. It does have a tendency to brown on the edges more than I would like, even when covered with foil strips, but the flavor is good. The dough rolls and shapes easily, and that saves a lot of frustration. Her “Country Pie Pastry” (p. 5) is a good alternative that uses both butter and solid shortening.

I pretty much always fall back on the pumpkin pie filling from my Betty Crocker New Picture Cookbook (p. 351) that I have mentioned here before, with the exception that I use half and half instead of the milk called for.

Pumpkin Pie

  • Servings: 2 pies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Preheat oven to 425°

Pâte Brisée

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon white sugar

2 sticks (1/2 lb) cold butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water—I needed about two more tablespoons of water to bring it together

  1. Put dry ingredients in food processor with dough blade.
  2. Add butter cubes and run on dough speed for 10-15 seconds until butter is cut in to a rough texture (this could all be done by hand).
  3. Add ice water slowly through the feed tube until the dough starts to form a ball. As I noted above, I had to use a little more water, but that always depends on things like humidity and fairy magic. Just don’t pulse it to death or the dough will be tough.
  4. Turn out onto your floured pastry rolling mat or board and knead into a ball, then cut in half for two crusts. Most recipes suggest that you chill the dough at this point, but I can’t be bothered with that in the winter.
  5. Roll out to about 1 1/2 inches larger than your pie dish top. Fit into dish, trim, leaving about a half inch hanging over the side. I like to roll under the edges and then crimp, so that there is a substantial crust edge—we like the crust. Use your favorite crimping method. I use my two thumbs, but I can’t take a picture of it without a third hand.

Pie Filling and Baking

1 29 oz can of pure pumpkin

3 1/2 cups half and half

6 eggs

1 1/3 cups brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Beat all ingredients and pour into pie crusts. Bake 45 minutes. Start checking at about 40 minutes for doneness by inserting a sharp silver knife 1″ from the edge of the pie. When it comes out clean, the pie is done and should be removed to cooling racks. The centers will not appear to be done—they will jiggle like liquid—but they will continue to cook during cooling. Do not wait until the centers are done or your pie will weep water after being cut. That’s the biggest mistake people make with custard pies, overcooking.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

If you recall, I made brioche buns and cut up most of them to put in the freezer for a later bread pudding. That day is here. It’s hard to hold off until Thanksgiving to make a pumpkin dessert, but I think it’s far enough away that this dish won’t interfere with our anticipation of that pie. This is a hearty pudding with the addition of pumpkin, and just right for this first day of November, when we are seeing a few snowflakes among the fall leaves.

I found a number of recipes and worked up a formula of 2 eggs, 2 cups half and half, and 1 can of pumpkin to 6 cups of bread cubes, maybe 8. Some use combinations of milk and cream in different ratios, but 2 cups of half and half seems the easier route. I generally use half and half in my custard pie (more about that on New Year’s) and a bread pudding is a custard at heart. Then everything else is negotiable—brown sugar, maybe some white sugar, cinnamon or other pumpkin spices, vanilla. There are recipes that want to serve it with a caramel-type sauce, and I give you that option, but I think whipped cream is enough if you want to highlight every bit of that pumpkin flavor. I even found recipes that use pumpkin bread, but that seems too heavy to me, and not the kind of bread that I would want in a pudding.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

  • Servings: 6+
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 350°; butter a 2 quart baking dish

6-8 cups cubed brioche (it’s hard to measure bread cubes, but you want to fill your baking dish to just below the rim to prevent burning)

2 cups half and half

2 large eggs

1 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pie mix)—if you want a lighter custard, you can cut the amount of pumpkin by up to half

1/2 cup (generous) brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon (generous) cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (you could even put a nut streusel on top)

  1. Spread out bread cubes in buttered dish. A more decadent recipe might drizzle some melted butter over the cubes.
  2. Combine the rest of the custard ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk or mixer. Pour over bread, carefully covering all the pieces.
  3. Sprinkle nuts over top.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes, checking after 30 minutes to see if it looks mostly done in the center. Remember that this is a custard and you don’t want to overcook it and have it turn watery after serving. Custard pies that leach water have been overcooked. The dish will continue to cook the custard after removing from oven, so don’t let it go too long. I took mine out after 40 minutes while it showed just a little wetness in the center. While sitting out of the oven, it cracked down the center as it continued to set. A custard pie would not take as long, but neither would it have soaked bread cubes in it that need to be cooked.
  5. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream or ice cream, or with a caramel sauce (below), or have it all, I guess.

Quick Caramel Sauce

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 stick butter

pinch-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (the bigger amount makes more of a salty caramel)

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until warm and the sugar begins to dissolve.
  2. Slowly pour in the half and half, stirring until combined.
  3. Continue stirring over low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved. The mixture will boil and foam—just keep stirring. Drop a small amount on a clean spoon to check for any sugar granules, if you are unsure.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Chill until ready to use, although you can certainly serve it warm, but not right off the stove.

 

Pumpkin Apple Walnut Bread

My husband has been putting canned pumpkin in the dog’s food for a while (it’s all about fiber or something) and I’ve been looking at those cans more and more as the fall weather approaches, and I had two Granny Smith apples sitting around, plus walnuts, so it was inevitable that I would be making a nut bread. I made pumpkin bread for years and then stopped and lost the recipe. Nothing I’ve tried seems to be like that old one, so I’ve just moved on and keep trying new ones, tweaking them as I go. Today’s is a keeper. I found a number of recipes, some identical to each other but with no credits, and narrowed it down to two before adding my ideas:

Mine is most like the “Pumpkin Apple Bread” from Heather Homemade, but I added walnuts and changed a few key ingredients and amounts.

Then again, it’s a lot like “Pumpkin Apple Bread with Streusel Topping” from Sand & Sisal, again with my own changes and additions.

What’s with no one adding nuts to their pumpkin bread?

 

Pumpkin Apple Walnut Bread

  • Servings: 2 large loaves
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 350°

Grease 2 9.25 x 5.25 x 2.75 loaf pans

The main changes I made to common pumpkin bread recipes are using half whole wheat flour, adding walnuts, and substituting plain Greek yogurt for half the vegetable oil.

In large mixer bowl mix the following ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups white sugar

Stir in 2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced, finely chopped, or grated.

Stir in 1 cup chopped walnuts.

Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the wet mixture, not overbeating:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and top with streusel (below). Bake for about 50 minutes, checking to make sure the edges do not burn. Cool on racks for about 15 mins., then remove from pans to cool completely. For the best flavor, wrap tightly and serve the next day so the flavors have a chance to develop—just don’t make eye contact with your family, who have been smelling the pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, and walnuts all afternoon. Or eat one and wrap one for later.

Brown Sugar Streusel Topping

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Oops! almost forgot the 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter

Mix all and cut in butter until evenly distributed and crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over batter in pans before baking.