Let's eat!

Hi. My name's Carol, and I love food. No, you don't understand. I love food. If I were on the Titanic, I'd be in the galley (kitchen) eating up the chocolate pudding and the roasted quail. I go to most events, activities and parties just for the food. The company and the conversation are secondary. Here, I'll try to document everything that goes into my mouth. Aren't we excited? Oh, hey, are you gonna eat that?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Bread/Pumpkin Nutella Bread

I baked two different pumpkin bread recipes. Mostly because the first one, dlyn's Pumpkin Spice Bread, required toasted walnuts--and I'd only shortsightedly bought enough for one batch, the first batch. I liked this recipe, because it was different from the usual. It had lemon zest, lemon and molasses, in addition to the spices.

The instructions were spotty, however, as most food blog recipes are. A lot of food bloggers only go for the great photography to grab your attention and raise hits, but neglect the follow-through. A lot of us reading food blogs like to recreate recipes of food they make. We don't really appreciate food bloggers who leave out important tidbits like, say,... the temperature of your oven (it's usually 350 for pumpkin bread) when you put your pumpkin batter in there.

I can screw up the simplest of recipes all on my own, however. With this one, I missed the part at the end that said to remove the baked pumpkin bread out of its pan "right away." I missed it, because I was already onto the second recipe, Pumpkin Nutella Bread from two peas in their pod, and I'd somehow missed the last ingredient listed when I read it over five times earlier this week (?!!!!).

My friend was dropping off my son from a playdate with her son, she offered to hang out while I rushed out to the store to pick up hazelnut extract. Little would I know that hazelnut extract is about as easy to find in your average supermarket or fine foods supermarket (Food Emporium, which as I found out tonight, is closing down for good in a few weeks--boo hoo) as Leprechaun juice.

I was looking high and low in the baking section of Food Emporium for hazelnut extract, past lemon, lime, strawberry, raspberry, lemonade, butter, mint, almond, and every other kind of extract you can imagine. But no hazelnut. That's when I noticed most of the shelves were emptied and there were two long lines at the registers--at 9 p.m. Highly unusual. After learning that my favorite go-to place for hard-to-find items would no longer be, due to a downturn in business, I headed to Albertson's. No luck there either.

I quickly formulated a plot to substitute hazelnut syrup (to flavor coffees with), which I had, for hazelnut extract. I could've done without it, but I actually thought I'd find it in stores, silly me.

I may have over-baked the first pumpkin bread. The one I put roasted/salted pumpkin seeds (I'd made from scratch the night before) on top of before baking in the largest loaf pan I had, the one larger than 9 x 11. But I remember leaving such quick breads in their pans to cool for 15 minutes before unmolding. Should be alright. Just in case it isn't, I've added a container of softened butter with which to spread the slices with for church tomorrow.

There isn't a lot of sugar in the Pumpkin Spice Bread. It's really and truly hearty bread, the kind you have for breakfast with strong coffee before going outside to rake the fall leaves.

But the Pumpkin Nutella Bread, ah, that may become a favorite. I tasted the batter a little. You wouldn't think anything chocolatey would go with pumpkin. But it does; it's the perfect marriage. The sweetened cocoa, skim milk and hazelnuts in the Nutella marry well with the nutty, creamy, cinnamony-ness of the pumpkin. Use real pumpkin, like I did. Makes all the difference.

Swirling two tablespoons into the batter is easy to do and results in a beautifully, complex marbled effect after baking. But the author of this recipe is wrong. The recipe given is only good for one good, substantial loaf, not two. I tried with an 8x to 9x, and it's not quite enough for both.

While I fell in love with this pumpkin bread, I still plan on testing out other recipes. Once I'm through with them all, I'll keep the Nutella one for sure and any other favorites for friends and family throughout the fall season. People who think they hate pumpkin (like me) may appreciate pumpkin more when it's a) not in a pie, and b) paired with Nutella, which everybody in the world seems to adore.

A lot of people don't bother doing anything with pumpkins other than decorate them. And even that is a chore. Maybe I'm talking about myself for the past 40 years. I hate carving pumpkins. It involves knives, knives are sharp, I am clumsy, I am scared to cut my fingers off. Plus we have critters who are into smashing pumpkins and eating them on our doorstep if we leave any outside as Halloween decorations.

Using an entire sugar pumpkin for food isn't such a hassle to me for some reason. I don't have to do a ton of carving. Just cutting the small pumpkin in half, placing them face down on a baking sheet, covering with foil, and roasting in the oven at 375 for about an hour (if it's a medium size). I recommend putting foil on the bottom to protect the baking sheet from burnt juices. You will smell when the pumpkin's done roasting before your time is up. Let cool out of the oven for a few minutes, then scrape out flesh with a spoon.

Fresh pumpkin stays in the fridge for three days. Any longer, into the freezer for six months. I like to thaw the pumpkin a day before use, then on the counter for a few minutes, then draining in a colander. Finally, I'll push any leftover liquid through the colander's holes with a wooden spoon just to be sure--before putting in pumpkin bread recipes.

If the recipe calls for canned pumpkin, and it usually does, use about a cup of fresh pumpkin. You can probably get away with a little extra too. Fresh pumpkin tastes cleaner, less gloppy than canned, in my opinion.

I bought another sugar pumpkin today. I have three to still roast when I need them.

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