I bought a white pumpkin from one of my favorite vendors at the farmers’ market, and on her recommendation, made my Thanksgiving pumpkin pie with it. I had some pumpkin puree left over so I decided to make pumpkin bread.
It’s almost as easy as opening a can to make pumpkin puree from scratch. All you have to do is cut the pumpkin into wedges and put in a glass casserole dish with about 1/2 inch of water, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes (depending on the squash and the size you cut it) or until soft.
Cool the cooked squash flesh, and if it seems stringy, scoop it into the food processor and give it a whirl to make a smooth puree. Simply measure and use as in the recipe below. You can also use butternut, acorn, or other similar squash. Sweet potato puree is another fine choice. Leftover puree can be used to make soups or pasta filling.
I looked around for recipes until I found one that inspired me, and I adjusted it to make it my own.
Heirloom Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread with Pecan Streusel
Makes 2 loaves
1 cup pecans
1 cup butter, plus more for pans
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of allspice
A few grindings of black pepper
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed (divided)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces package cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and toast the pecans for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Butter and lightly flour two 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pans. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and black pepper. Set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Add the granulated sugar, 3/4 cup of the brown sugar, and melted butter and whisk until blended. Whisk or stir in the pumpkin puree, molasses, and vanilla extract.
Make the cream cheese filling: In a food processor, process the cream cheese until smooth, add the sugar and process until blended and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, processing just until incorporated, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the flour and vanilla extract and process briefly.
Add the flour/spice mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until the ingredients are combined, without overly mixing.
Put one-quarter of the pumpkin batter into the two loaf pans, spreading it evenly. Top each one with one-half of the cream cheese filling. Top the cream cheese with the remaining pumpkin batter.
Chop the nuts coarsely and toss with the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Sprinkle evenly over the top of each loaf pan.
Bake the breads for about 60-80 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Place pans on a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing breads.
Give one away and keep one! Or freeze one. Use organic and local ingredients whenever possible.
Recipe Copyright 2009 Vanessa Barrington
Image: Simon Blackley