Saturday, November 30, 2013
Gingery Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chunks
I hope you are enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday and had a nice lineup of pies to round out your meal. I managed to get out of baking this year! Can you guess what would keep me from baking for this holiday? I’m sure you’ve noticed that my baking and blogging has slowed down a bit over the past few months. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to bake or share recipes with you, it’s just that I’ve been busy with other things. My current focus has ten fingers and ten toes and he arrived just over three weeks ago. Yes, Scott and I just had a baby! He is so cuddly and cute and I’m totally over the moon for him.
A few days before he arrived I went on a bit of a baking binge. I should have known that my final bit of nesting would involve baking. It had been weeks since I had baked anything, and I finally had enough energy to spend a few hours in the kitchen making tasty treats. First, I made a batch of Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies with Rye Flour, then I made an apple pie (I’ll share that recipe with you later), and finally, I made this pumpkin bread. I dropped off half of the pie with my brother’s family and put the cookies and a loaf of the pumpkin bread in the freezer to bring to the hospital for the nurses and doctors who took care of us. I’m so glad I brought something in for them because they took such good care of us and make the experience so easy and special.
Anyway, let’s get down to business: discussing this pumpkin bread. This is the ultimate pumpkin bread recipe. It is moist and delicious, with the perfect balance of pumpkin, ginger, and chocolate flavors. Scott and I tried one of the loaves once it had cooled, and it was so addictive that I had to wrap the rest of the loaf and put it in the freezer to keep us from eating all of it at once. It is going to be my go-to pumpkin recipe from here on out!
You’ll need to make the topping first so that it is ready when you combine the wet and dry ingredients. You don’t want the combined batter sitting around for very long because it might impact how the loaves raise. One of the things I like about this recipe is that it uses an entire (15 ounce) can of pumpkin puree. Make sure you buy plain pumpkin puree and not the kind with the spices already added. I ground the crystallized ginger into the sugar so that there would be an intense gingery flavor without any large chunks of ginger. If you don’t have a food processor, just finely mince the ginger. I used grapeseed oil, but any light-flavored oil will work. You will want to use full fat cream cheese for this recipe. I found that I needed to use an immersion blender to blend the cream cheese into the pumpkin ingredients so that the mixture was homogeneous; however, if you cut the cream cheese into pea-sized pieces to begin with, it should be easier to incorporate without an immersion blender. I used buttermilk powder to make this recipe. I find that it is easier to keep buttermilk powder on hand than it is to go out and buy buttermilk. Just follow the directions on your buttermilk powder package to give you a ¼ cup of buttermilk. My buttermilk powder directions tell me to add the powder to the dry ingredients (i.e., the flour) and then add cold water to the liquid ingredients. You’ll need two standard-sized loaf pans to make this recipe. I don’t have two loaf pans that match, so I used one glass pan and one metal pan. Keep in mind that the loaves may bake a bit more quickly in the metal pan than in a glass pan. Lining the pans with a piece of parchment paper makes it super easy to pull the finished loaves out of the pan.
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.
5 tablespoons (78 g) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon (10 g) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (11 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon (3 g) ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon (1 g) salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups (271 g) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons (5 g) baking powder
½ teaspoon (4 g) baking soda
1 cup (205 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (223 g) light brown sugar
½ cup (95 g) crystallized ginger
15 ounces (416 g) canned pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon (7 g) salt
2 teaspoons (5 g) ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon (2 g) ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup grapeseed oil
4 ounces (114 g) cream cheese, cut into pea-sized pieces and at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup buttermilk
1½ cups (7.4 oz./209 g) dark chocolate chips or chunks
Yields 2 loaves
Make the Topping:
In a medium-sized bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients, and use two knives or your fingertips to mix the ingredients together. The mixture should be homogeneous and sandy in texture. Set aside until the loaves are ready to go into the oven.
Whisk, Cook, Stir, Combine, Top, Bake:
Adjust the oven rack to the middle level, and preheat to 350ºF. Butter two 9x5-inch loaf pans, and line them with parchment paper or wax paper, leaving some overhang on the 9-inch sides of the pans. Flour the pans once the parchment is in place so that the 5-inch sides of the loaves will not stick to the pans. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and set aside. Combine the granulated and light brown sugars with the crystallized ginger in a food processor, and process until the ginger is completely incorporated into the sugar and no lumps remain. Set the sugar mixture aside. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the pumpkin, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reduces to about 1½ cups, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the sugar mixture, grapeseed oil, and cream cheese, and allow the mixture to rest for about 5 minutes so the cream cheese can soften. Whisk vigorously (or use an immersion blender) until there are no more cream cheese lumps and the mixture is homogeneous. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, and then add the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the pumpkin mixture, and then stir in the flour mixture. It is ok if there are a few small flour lumps in the batter. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Divide the mixture between the two prepared loaf pans, and sprinkle half of the topping over each loaf. Bake on the middle rack at 350ºF for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the loaves to rest in the pans for 20 minutes, and then turn them out of the pans, and cool the loaves on a wire rack. Once cool, wrap the loaves in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. You can keep them at room temperature or freeze them.