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

banana-butterscotch cream tarts

These. are. RIDICULOUS.  Not just a little.  They are majorly ridiculous.

You want to make these.  Today.  Right now.  Seriously.

Remember how enthusiastic I was about those ginger-molasses lemon cookies?  That’s kinda how I feel about this.  Only … they are totally not the same.

Where the cookie is chewy and sweetly tart, these tarts are creamy and sweet.  Really sweet.

Bananas.  Butterscotch.  Whipped cream.  Winner … Oh yes.  Holy heck yes!

I would tweek one thing about this recipe … the size.  Holy heck – 4-inch tarts are too big.  It took 5 of us to eat one.  Mind you we’d all just eaten some monkey bread … but still.  2-inch tarts would do.  They would hit the spot.  They would be perfect to offer on your holiday buffet.  How about you make these for tomorrow night.  You know you want to impress people, but you don’t want to spend another entire day in the kitchen slaving away.  So don’t.  Make these and get outside.  Enjoy the snow.  Or curl up with that book you got for Christmas.  Basically – this is the perfect dessert to make, assemble and then … chillax.

Let’s do it!

Be forewarned – this tart is made in three steps.  Steps one and two can be completed very quickly and can be refrigerated up to 2 days before finishing it.  The third step needs to be done the same day as you are serving this dessert.  So plan accordingly.

fyi – this is another David Lebovitz recipe.  His genius astounds me.  Oh how I heart his book, website, recipes.  I hope you have started to heart him too.

banana – butterscotch cream tarts

ingredients:

crust

1 1/2 c. crushed chocolate cookie crumbs and graham cracker crumbs (combo)

3 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Generously spray your mini tart pans (or a 10-inch pie plate) with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs, chocolate cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter together.  You’re looking to get a moistened, almost muddy texture (take it from a sandy texture to a muddy one).  If making small individual tarts (12 x 2-inch mini, 5 x 4-inch medium), evenly divide the cookie base between them – patting the mixture into the bottoms and sides of each tart pan.  If making the larger tart, simply pat the mixture evenly across the base of the pie pan and up the sides.

Refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes.

Bake the crust until it feels slightly firm, about 6 minutes (mini), 8 minutes (medium), and 10 minutes (large).

Let cool completely.

Make the filling.

filling:

1 c. packed brown sugar

2 tbsp butter

3 tbsp cornstartch

1 1/2 c. whole milk

1/2 tsp salt

3 egg yolks, whisked together

2 tsp rum (sailor jerry’s of course)

1 tsp vanilla

3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces

Combine the brown sugar and butter together in a small saucepan.  Stir while the butter melts.  Once melted, pour into a large bowl.  Set a strainer across the top of the bowl.  Set aside.

Grab a small bowl.  Whisk together the cornstarch with just enough of the milk to make a smooth slurry (David’s words … not mine.  Basically you want the cornstarch to dissolve and create a thin paste – similar to thick honey, not tomato paste).

Now … grab your medium saucepan (I promised easy – not easy on the dishes!) and heat the remaining milk and the salt.  When the milk gets hot, stir in the cornstarch – whisking everything together.  Cover over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken and boil.  It doesn’t smell great … not at this point anyway.

Whisk a small amount of the milk/cornstarch mixture into the beaten egg yolks.  Whisk quickly and drizzle the warm mixture slowly … it’ll prevent curdling of the egg yolks.  Once tempered, return the egg-yolk mixture into the medium saucepan – returning it to the heat.

Cook, again, stirring constantly until the mixture comes to a boil and resembles mayonnaise (thickness).  Pour it through the strainer into the brown-sugar butter mixture (the strainer will catch any of those lumps and curdled pieces).

Add the vanilla and rum.  Whisk to combine.

Scatter the slices of banana in the base of the tart pans.

Pour the butterscotch filling into the crust, covering the bananas.  Cover the tarts and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I left mine overnight).  This is when you should (1) go play outside or (2) curl up with a book.  Relax.  You’re almost done.

When you are ready to serve the tart – work on the topping.  You need to pull out your rum for this portion as well :0)

topping:

1 c. heavy cream

1 tbsp powdered sugar

2 tbsp rum (again… sailor jerry’s)

1 tsp vanilla

chocolate sprinkles to garnish

You haven’t had to use a stand-mixer or hand-mixer yet.  Now you do … unless you’d like to whisk.  If you do – then by all means … giver!

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, whisk the heavy cream on high speed until it begins to forth.  Add the sugar, rum, and vanilla, continuing to whisk until the cream holds peaks.  You want a pretty stiff cream.

Spoon the whipped cream into a large piping bag.  Now pipe each tart … creating a beautiful, creamy topping.  Sprinkle with the chocolate sprinkles.

Done.

Festive and beautiful.  And not too difficult!  In the course of an afternoon you’ve created an amazing dessert AND enjoyed some quality relaxing time.

Brilliant.  Perfect to celebrate the end of 2010 and the beginning of a new year.

banana squash chai chocolate chip loaf

Sounds like a mouthful right?

It is.  A delicious, moist, wonderful mouthful.  Oh how I heart this recipe.

Have you ever opened your freezer and found yourself looking at some black bananas and some roasted, mashed squash?

If that’s the case … then make this.  Seriously.  This loaf is so delicious.  I ate (well shared) one of the two loaves in 3 days.  3 days!!!!  It’s the kind of loaf where once you start slicing pieces off you can’t stop.  That is my favourite kind of thing.

I wanted to share this recipe with you today.  I thought we could all use something that isn’t turkey. Or tourtière.  That isn’t a sugar cookie or a ginger cookie.  That has pretty much absolutely nothing to do with the holidays.  It’s the perfect thing to whip up (super quick and simple recipe), pour into a loaf pan and bake … filling your kitchen with all kinds of wonderful.

Your perfect reward for surviving the holidays.

This recipe is  also the perfect example of how I take a recipe and adapt it to my needs.  You can well imagine that almost all of my recipe books start off looking like this:

and then… end up looking like this:

so if you’re missing the squash, don’t like the chai and just feel like a hearty slice of banana bread … check out the ingredients in the unmarked picture … it’ll make one loaf of banana goodness … but the adapted recipe is pretty amazing.  I’m just sayin’…

banana squash chai chocolate chip loaf

ingredients:

4 c. flour, sifted

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/5 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

grated nutmeg (to taste)

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. white sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

4 eggs

2 ripe bananas, mashed

half medium squash, roasted and mashed

1/2 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. chai

1 (heaping) c. chocolate chips

Boil some water and make a mug of chai.  You can use half and then drink half while you’re baking :0)  Thanks to Marysol – I used this amazing chai brand – it’s probably the best chai I’ve tried (merci ma belle Marysol!)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray two loaf pans with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer (or with a hand-held mixer), and using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well; scraping the sides as needed.  Add the mashed banana, squash, buttermilk and chai to the bowl.

Slowly add the flour mixture.  Once it’s kinda mixed together (not fully incorporated), toss in the chocolate chips, and mix those around for about 15 seconds.

Evenly divide the batter between the two loaf pans, and bake on the centre rack for 45 minutes.  Cover each loaf with foil, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes (this will prevent the tops from getting too dark).

You’ll know that the loaf is ready when you pierce it with a knife and the blade comes out clean (well… except for the melted chocolate).  Allow the loaves to cool on a wire rack (leave in the pans for 15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely), and then slice off a piece.  Or three.  Yes.  I ate three slices when I made these.  It’s that good.

Banana bread is one of those things that I truly belive gets better after freezing – so wrap it nice and tight in some plastic wrap and save some for another day.  That’s why you need to bake two – one for immediate gratification, and the other for delayed gratification.