Thursday, December 10, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving/Pre-Christmas Baking

The holidays always put me in mind of breads thanks to my dad and his mad bread skills. Some saint gave him Beard on Bread 30+ years ago, and since then he has churned out gorgeous loaves every holiday season. (This year I've gone as far as asking for a loaf of his wonderful cheese bread as a Christmas gift. We'll see if I am on the 'nice' list or not. My refusal to share may maroon me in naughty-land.)

I don't do yeast, but quick breads are easy. And I had cans of pumpkin left over from Thanksgiving pie making this year. So, earlier this week, I decided to get a jump on the holidays and bake up a batch of pumpkin bread. I'm not sure why I didn't blog about this recipe last year; it's excellent. It's from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook. The bread comes out moist, pumpkin-y, just sweet enough, and rather not bad for you. I made a triple batch.

Bread in Papa, Mama and Baby Bear sizes.
They look darker in the photos than in real life.

Pumpkin Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp each: baking powder, salt, cinnamon and clove
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter (1 stick/4oz)
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin (canned)
3/4 cup nuts
3/4 raisins or chocolate bits or craisins, etc

The directions are your basic cake procedure: Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl; Cream the butter and sugar, beat in eggs one at a time, then pumpkin and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, mixing to incorporate. Stir in the nuts, etc. Dump into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50-60min until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack, unmolding after 10 min.

I ran into problems early because I realized, only after sifting the dry ingredients, that I had no brown sugar. So, I substituted 3/4 cup of white sugar and - because brown sugar is moister than white - 1/4 cup of Lyles Golden syrup. It seems to have worked out just fine - texture, flavor and moisture are perfect. My other problem was trying to fit 3 batches in the stand mixer (2 just fit; you are forewarned).

I like this bread with walnuts, chocolate bits and craisins, so I added 3/4 cup of each. Finally, I have an assorted mishmosh of loaf pans. So, I made 3 mini loafs that took about 45 minutes to bake, one normal size which took about 50 minutes and one larger loaf pan that took about 70 minutes. All came out just fine.

I've been eating the bread for breakfast and tea (brought a mini in to the office) and I am feeling very holiday-ish. I am taking tomorrow off for shopping and cooking. Santa's Kitchen will be open for business. Stay tuned...

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