Friday, August 23, 2013

Pumpkin Quick Bread

I get a kick out of it when people ask me questions about baking. Just the other day, I got an email from Indonesia from someone who had a question about sweet potato donuts. I answered as best I could, given that the original recipe wasn't mine and I'm not familiar with Indonesian sweet potatoes.

I hope I helped.

So when m friend Carla called and asked if I could take a look at a pumpkin bread recipe and make it work, I said sure.

The biggest problem with the recipe was that the instructions mentioned sugar, but there was no sugar in the ingredient list. How much sugar?

I gave the recipe a try with added sugar and a few other adjustments, and I wasn't happy with the results. The spices seemed off. Too much clove, for one thing. The cake had a harsh flavor. Maybe the recipe was written for people whose spices are five years old.

By the time I was done tweaking and changing, the recipe wasn't quite the same recipe any more. I even changed the mixing instructions.

I think this was a pretty big success.

Pumpkin Bread

1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups (15 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray two 8 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans with baking spray - I use the spray that includes flour - or grease and flour the pans the old fashioned way, if your prefer.

Combine the pumpkin, eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, water, and vanilla in a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. A stand mixer isn't required, this is just as easy with an electric mixer or by hand. Mix until blended. If you're using your stand mixer, mix slowly or you'll spew liquid all over.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Stir or whisk gently to combine.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well combined - but you don't need to beat it. Just blend. If you're using a stand mixer, it might be easiest to add the flour in several additions, so you don't spew flour when you turn on the mixer.

Add the nuts (if you're using them) and stir to combine

Divide the batter between the two pans and bake at 350 degrees until the breads are richly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - about 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Remove the loaves from their pans and cool completely on a rack before slicing.