‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin, so far be it from me to not include at least one pumpkin recipe for you. This bread is one I entered in a local competition; it’s moist and delicious, filled with the flavours of Autumn with cinnamon, nutmeg, apple cider syrup, pumpkin (of course) and pumpkin seeds instead of nuts.
This is the second installment in my series of three posts where I’ll be sharing with you my winning recipes at the Blue Ribbon Country Fair, held at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, last month. In the first post for Bourbon Pecan Praline Tea Cakes, I told you all about the celebration and contest.
While this was my third year in the competition, and I have ribboned in every baking entry I have submitted, last year was the first year I entered the category for Variety Bread. I brought home a red ribbon (second place) last year, so I was really tickled with a win this year.
Variety Bread is a broad category and can be anything you wish to bake, from apple to zucchini. It’s open to creativity and I tried to bring that creativity to this bread. As with the tea cake recipe, I used natural sugars. I also played with other flavours and essences.
Since I wanted this bread to epitomize Autumn and the flavours we associate with it, I used cinnamon and nutmeg. I also used walnut oil; by using that instead of a vegetable oil I was imparting the taste of walnuts (a traditional nut for pumpkin bread around here). In addition, I added apple cider syrup to give that sweet, deep taste of crisp Fall apples. Once again, I used orange blossom water as an essence. What I mean by that is it gives the aroma of oranges, more than any significant flavouring.
Here’s a little bit about some of those “special ingredients” I used: You can purchase boiled cider (apple cider syrup), but it’s easy to make and keep on hand. I’ve included a “recipe” for how to do it. You can also purchase orange blossom water, but this isn’t an essential ingredient. Walnut oil is found in most markets in the specialty oil section, and it really makes a difference in the flavour of the bread, so use it if you can. Finally, I decided to put an emphasis on the pumpkin by using toasted pumpkin seeds rather than a more traditional walnut or pecan; these can normally be found in most markets either in the produce section with nuts, or in health food sections.
This pumpkin bread is so moist and delicious. I hope you’ll try it.
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
- ⅔ cup turbinado sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 2 cups pumpkin purée (you could use a 15 oz. can)
- 1 cup walnut oil (I used this for the walnut flavor, but you could use vegetable oil)
- ⅔ cup coconut milk (or half & half, cream or whole milk)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider syrup
- 1 teaspoon orange blossom water
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
- 2 tablespoons sanding sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Grease and flour two loaf pans.
- In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, including flour, both sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
- Stir to combine and to break up any clumps of brown sugar.
- Add all wet ingredients, including pumpkin purée, walnut oil, coconut milk, cider syrup, and orange blossom water.
- Using a sturdy spatula, stir the ingredients to combine and all flour is incorporated.
- Fold in the pumpkin seeds.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
- If using, sprinkle the tops of each loaf with 1 tablespoon of sanding sugar.
- Place the pans in the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and cover loaves with foil. This will enable the loaves to steam. After 10 minutes, remove the foil and turn the loaves out onto a wire cooking rack to cool completely
- One gallon apple cider
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot, gently boil a gallon of apple cider, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to ⅛ (making 2 cups syrup), about 2 hours.