pumpkin loaf (5 ways)

Seriously.  This is THE BEST LOAF in the history of all loaves.  I lie not.  Heck… Between October 14th and October 24th I baked it 5 times.  5 times! And you get 2 good-sized loaves out of each recipe.

I was flipping through the recipe book Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Polafito when I spotted this gem of a recipe.  It looked good… and what better way to know for certain than to try it right?

OMG I am so happy I decided to bake it.  It is OUTSTANDING!

Bye-bye banana loaf.

Sayōnara zucchini bread.

Hello pumpkin loaf.  Oh how I heart you… and so does everyone else who tastes you.

You might wonder… how can I still love this recipe after making it so often (and yes, I have tried every single loaf that has come out of my oven)?  Easy.  I switch it up a little.  The basis of the loaf is always the same – but then I add to it: nuts, dried fruit, types of chocolate chips, other fruit.  It’s ridiculous how versitile this recipe is – and every single time it’s a winner.  Every. Single. Time.

Let me count the ways I love this recipe:

1.  No stand mixer required.  Just a whisk, a couple of bowls and a rubber spatula.

2.  It smells AMAZING – from the moment you start on the batter until you take it out of the oven – you will be in heaven.

3.  It makes 2 loaves at once.  You can share the love among friends and family… and still keep one all to yourself.

4.  It tastes great with bre cheese.  Seriously … ask Julie.

5.  It’s just delish.  ‘Nuf said.

(baked) pumpkin chocolate chip loaf (original version – with my little “twists”)

ingredients:

3 1/4 c. flour, sifted

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp group allspice (I used ground cloves)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt

1 3/4 c. pumpkin purée (one 15 oz. can)

1 c. vegetable oil

3 c. sugar (I used 1 c. white & 2 c. brown sugars)

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 c. water, room temperature

1 1/2 c. chocolate chips (I used half white & half semisweet chocolate chips)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray two 9 inch loaf pans with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon nutmeg, allspice (cloves), ginger, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In another, larger bowl, whisk together the pumpkin purée and the oil until combined.  Add the sugar(s) and whisk again. 

It’ll thicken nicely – now add in the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition, and the vanilla.  Add the water and whisk until combined.  Grab your rubber spatula and stir in the chocolate chips.

Gently fold in the dry ingredients – try not to overmix.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans.  Gently tap the pans against the counter – it’ll remove any air bubbles and level out the top of each loaf.

Bake at the centre of the oven – about 1 hour 20 minutes (give or take) – a toothstick or tip of knife should come out clean when inserted in the centre.

Transfer the pans to a wire rack, cool for about 15 minutes; then invert the loaves and cool completely.  And then slice into it. 

As you can tell from my enthusiasim – there are many more ways to make this loaf. 

Here are my 4 alternatives:

pumpkin chocolate chip pecan mini loaves

*add 3/4 c. chopped pecans to the batter at the same time as the chocolate chips.  Otherwise – everything remains the same.

apple spice pumpkin chocolate chip loaf

*add a large apple (peeled, cored, diced, sautéed) to the batter as the same time as the chocolate chips.

*next time I will grate the apple into the batter … but it still tasted good in chunks.

pumpkin date walnut loaf

* replace the cloves with pumpkin spice, replace the chocolate chips with chopped dates and toss in 3/4 c. walnuts to the batter.

pumpkin peanut butter chocolate chip loaf

*decrease the vegetable oil to 1/2 c. and add 1 c. natural peanut butter.  Add the peanut butter at the same time as the pumpkin purée.

*my mother’s favourite version – she loved how much it tasted of peanut butter

perfect day

Yesterday was the best day!  Why?  Well…

1.  It was a beautiful, sunny, warm(ish) kinda day.  The kind of day where the sunshine greets you when you open your eyes and everything looks beautiful.

2.  I got to (finally) meet Marysol, my she eats bears friend.  I brought her some mini pumpkin chocolate chip pecan spice loaves.

pumpkin chocolate chip pecan spice loaf

3.  I met Marysol in her new restaurant – Edgar (on the Gatineau side, just at the entrance of Gatineau Park, Alexandre-Taché entrance).  I heart Edgar something fierce!  It’s PERFECT.  If you’ve been to Montréal’s Olive & Gourmandoit kinda reminds me of that… the same feel.  Which is warm and welcoming and friendly… The doors aren’t open quite yet… but soon.  It’s already amazing…

4.  Marysol gifted me with some apple raisin pecan sticky buns.

Looks good doesn’t it?  It was… and is (I’m eating another one as I write this).

5.  I spent the better part of my day riding my bike.  What a spectacular day!  Nice and warm in the sun… imagine… still riding my bike in October… in Ottawa!? I LOVE IT!!!!

and finally… the best part of my day,

6.  Olivier.

My cousin Olivier is… one of my favourite little people :0)

He was born a little over two months after I moved to Ottawa for University – so I can basically say that I have been a part of his life since he was born.

When Olivier was 3, I moved in with my aunt and uncle – crashing on their pull-out couch.  Somehow, Olivier and I devised a game:  every night when he was getting ready for bed we would pull out my bed and say “allô lit” (hello bed); and every morning he would run downstairs and wake me up… eager to say “bye-bye lit“.  Seriously.  Every. Single. Day.  Even on weekends. We would both laugh and giggle our way through the making of the bed, making sure that his little fingers didn’t get trapped and pinched… and then we would go to the kitchen and eat banana with peanut butter. Every. Single. Day.  Even on weekends.  I loved those mornings and nights.  I loved that Olivier and I got to spend so much time together and that I really knew my little cousin.

So when Marie (his mother) asked if I wouldn’t mind babysitting him last night I was thrilled.  I decided to introduce Olivier to Cheezy Luigis pizza.  Done. I have a new convert… Olivier informed me that it was “vraiment une très bonne pizza” (a very good pizza).  Excellent!

Prior to arriving that afternoon, I had decided that Olivier and I would bake together.  I had arrived at their place with a few apples, pears, dried dates and a lemon.  I figured that Marie would have some brown sugar, flour, butter, and rolled oats in her pantry: and since fall is the perfect time of year for a crisp; that’s what Olivier and I were going to make, an apple pear date crisp.  YUM.

I chopped all the fruit (dried dates can be difficult to cut – use scissors if you want) and then Olivier pulled together the crisp topping and was responsible for all the mixing.

It’s a really easy recipe (probably the easiest thing in the entire world to make) - perfect for a 31-year-old and 11-year-old to conquer.  And not only did it make the house smell ridiculously amazing… but it tasted good.  Real good. Or as Olivier proclaimed “ça… c’est vraiment bon!”

(olivier and my) apple pear date crisp

ingredients:

fruit base:

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

3 pears, cored and sliced

1/2 c. dried dates, coarsely chopped

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 c. brown sugar

crispy topping:

2 c. rolled oats

3/4 c. flour

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Olivier mixing everything together

Place all your sliced fruit and chopped dates in a large bowl.  Add the lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Grab a large wooden spoon and mix well.

Then dump it all into your rectangular baking dish.  Step 1 is complete.

Time to make your crispy topping.

In another bowl, combine the oats, flour and brown sugar.  Pour the melted butter on top and mix well.  Pour over the fruit base and spread it around.

Bake for about 40 minutes… you want the fruit to be tender when you stick a fork in them.  Since I didn’t use any flour to thicken the base, it’ll be a little juicy.  That’s ok.  Allow the crisp to rest for about 10 minutes and then dig in.

It was DELICIOUS… if I do say so myself… which I have.  Actually… I’m pretty sure I told Marie that it was cochon.  Yeah… like the pig.  It’s that good.  Clasp for me and Olivier!  We did good :0)  The perfect end to the perfect day… Marysol and Edgar, sticky bun, bike ride, Olivier, Cheezy Luigis and crisp.  That is one solid day.

wednesday sundaes

Last night was book club.  Yep.  I’m in a book club.  The premise is that a bunch of us ladies enjoy reading… and eating.  So why not read a book, get together, chat and enjoy some food and wine?  Sounds good to me… and to 5 of my friends.

the book… sigh.

We’d picked our book – The Postmistress (don’t go there… the consensus amongst us ladies was not good at all.  Read Suite Française or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society if you want to see how a war-time novel is done right) and then picked our theme:

SUNDAES!

Kailey was kind enough to host – she has AC (yes, we heart this because it is so ridiculously, unpleasantly hot outside); Tonya and Tanya both brought along some bottles of vino (sparkling and rosé seemed to be the theme) and I brought along some of Pascale’s All Natural Ice Cream (French Vanilla and Passionfruit) and some toppings.  It was time to bring my Friday night sundaes on the road… and boy was it good!

Pascale’s all natural ice cream and some sparkling… perfect combo!

I wanted to make sure that I had some options for the ladies…

I started off making Jenna’s peanut butter and chocolate ganache (yeah, it rocked).  The ganache tempered really well… I poured it into squeeze bottles so that we could squirt it all over our bowls of ice cream… and then… it hardened and became so fudgy.  It was sigh worthy and amazing.  For reals. 

Tonya making her sundae… and lovin’ the ganache ;0)

Then I whipped up a batch of raw cookie dough – based on Jenna’s recipe again; however, I tossed in some raisins.  Chewy and doughy… I kept it in the freezer until it was time to serve… and then thanks to mother nature and our heat wave, the cookie dough tempered really quickly ;0)  Easy to pull apart and drop on top of the scooped ice cream (or just to nibble at on its own).

raw cookie dough – chocolate chip and raisin (Sara’s favourite)

I wanted something with a bit of texture as well… so I pulled out some butter, some pretzels and brown sugar; blitzed it all together in the food processor and baked it for about 25 minutes.  Pretzel shortbread.  Solid topping.  Salty and crumbly – -  inspired to replace salted peanuts on your sundae.  A perfect match for the ganache and the cookie dough. 

I had some remaining passionfruit curd (based on Jenna’s recipe) and brought that along.  The tartness of the curd (and it’s so creamy and delicious) was used to cut the sweetness of everything else.   Certainly a sundae topping winner.

passionfruit curd…delish

Finally… I needed something else… remember how I mentioned that I wanted to try making the toffee vanilla shortbread but with dark chocolate and cherries?  Well I did.  Even better than the original.  No lies… this cherry-chocolate shortbread was not too sweet but oh so buttery.  Sigh.  Butter, chocolate and dried fruit.  Pretty a-maz-ing.

 cherry-chocolate shortbread

So… are you going to host a sundae party?  Super fun to custom make your own toppings and get together with some friends.  I’m even going to share the cookie dough recipe with you… after all it’s perfect – tastes great and no baking in the heat!  Nice of me to think of your comfort in the kitchen eh?  Yeah… I’m nice like that :0)

chocolate-chip raisin cookie dough

ingredients:

3/4 c. salted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 c. brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

3 c. all-purpose flour, sifted

pinch of salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 c. chocolate-chips

1 c. raisins

No need to pre-heat your oven or grab a cookie sheet.  All you need to do is cream together your butter and sugar (either in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment or with a hand-held mixer).  Once fluffy (scrape down the sides of the bowl) add in the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition.  Finally, add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  That’s it.  simple eh?  Gather the dough and put it a large freezer bag (or wrap in plastic wrap) and place in the freezer until you want to use it.  Allow to temper in the fridge and then pull it out to use on your sundae.

This recipe makes a load of dough – so either freeze in smaller bags or you could even bake some up… if you feel like turning on the oven.

Throw that party!  It’ll be fun… I promise… I mean… check it out!

Tonya’s final product… yum