Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Pumpkin Pecan Loaf

With Halloween just around the corner, here's an idea... recycle your jack-o-lanterns into pumpkin purée for my favorite 'Pumpkin Pecan Loaf' recipe. Only use your jack-o-lantern for purée if it was freshly carved the day prior, and outside only a few hours for Halloween night. Be sure to clean the inside of the pumpkin for any charred flesh or bugs before roasting! 

To make fresh pumpkin (or winter squash) purée; 
Preheat oven to 400F and brush a bake sheet lightly with oil. Cut pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds and strings. Place pumpkin, cut sides down on the prepared bake sheet. Bake until the flesh is soft when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Scoop out the flesh into a food processor, purée until smooth, then transfer to a cheesecloth lined sieve placed over a large bowl. Allow to drain for 30 minutes before using. Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in airtight containers for up to one year.
*Chef's Tip: If you are making soup, use the drained pumpkin juice for all or part of the liquid called for in the recipe.

I used kabocha squash purée for my Pecan Loaves this time. The squash flesh was dense, sweet and smooth but the loaves took an extra 15 minutes to bake through. It is important to remember in baking that timing is affected by many different factors. The accurate 'test of doneness' is done with a toothpick or cake tester, inserted into the center of a loaf or cake. When it comes out clean, the cake is done. 

*More Substitutes: I have used organic spelt flour instead of unbleached flour and organic palm sugar in place of granulated sugar in this recipe with success.

*Chef's Tip: In commercial bakeries, batters are made in very large batches. To portion batter, a weigh scale is used for each cake. The pan and batter are weighed together, this produces each loaf or cake the same size and therefore they bake in the same timing. If you have a scale and 2 identical loaf pans this is an easy task and results in equal baking time and equal size of the loaves.

PUMPKIN PECAN LOAF      Yield: 2 loaf cakes 
Pumpkin gives a rich color, distinctive flavor and delicious moisture to this easy quick bread. This is a great recipe to use up some of that pumpkin purée you froze last fall!

Cool for 10 minutes in the pans
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
2 tsp. baking soda 
1½ tsp. salt 
1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
½ tsp. ground nutmeg 
½ tsp. ground ginger 
¼ tsp. allspice 
2 cups granulated sugar 
1¼ cups pumpkin purée (canned or cooked) 
1 cup vegetable oil 
2/3 cup water 
2 eggs 
2 cups seedless raisins 
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease or parchment line two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. 
Stir together flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice; set aside. 
Combine sugar, pumpkin, oil, water and eggs in the large bowl of an electric mixer, set on medium speed. Gradually add flour mixture, mix well. Stir in raisins and pecans. 
 Loaves made with kabocha squash purée
Pour batter evenly into prepared pans. Bake 1 hour or until the loaf tests done. (*Remember, when I used squash purée my loaves needed hours to cook through. Test with a cake tester before removing from the oven.)
Cool for 10 minutes in the pans set on cooling racks, then remove from pans and thoroughly cool on racks.

*Chef's Note: These loaves freeze well. I wrap each slice individually in plastic wrap, then put in a large freezer bag. Quick and easy to pack for the ferry or to use in school lunches! 

Till next week ... Bon Appétit!

Photos by Sally Rae
Recipe by Sally Rae ~ from 'For the Love of Food'

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