Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pumpkin Nut Bread

Cook some pumpkins and you're bound to have leftovers.

That was the case this week as we were preparing pumpkin for our wild rice pilaf. My wife has a serious itch for making bread lately. The leftover pumpkin was a natural contender for a pumpkin bread.

For a recipe, she turned to a recent issue of Cook's Illustrated. This is quick bread, meaning it uses chemical rising agents rather than yeast. We are very fond of quick banana bread and this bread is similar, right down to the walnuts. Except there's no banana, of course, and the bread embodies everything we like about fall, including the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and, of course, pumpkin.

To make one 9-inch loaf:

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

2 cups pumpkin, mashed (or 1 15-ounce can pumpkin)

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, chopped coarse

1 cup dried cranberries

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

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

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.

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

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.)

Try this smeared with cream cheese, but don't tell anyone.

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