Pumpkin spice: An autumn loaf to love
As kitchens go, mine is probably about average size. I have sufficient counter space but certainly none to spare. With that in mind, I tend to think long and hard about buying kitchen appliances. Practicality rather than aesthetics is my primary concern. How will this make my life easier? How often will I use it? The same goes for cookware.
This common-sense approach to kitchen acquisitions all fell by the wayside one day as I looked through a Sur la Table catalog. With one glance, I fell in love with a loaf pan. More specifically, I fell in love with a cake baked in the pan. Shouting the colors of fall, the pumpkin loaf featured a sculptured pattern of a pumpkin patch, leaves and all. I couldn’t get my credit card out fast enough.
The day my purchase arrived, I mixed up the recipe for the pumpkin spice loaf that came with the pan. Two hours later, I was crestfallen. The pumpkin loaf came out of the pan flawlessly, showcasing the pattern on top. Sadly though, my version looked nothing like the picture in the catalog. Mine was much darker, more reminiscent of All Hallows Eve than an autumn afternoon. I promptly put the pan in my topmost cabinet and forgot about it.
With a garden full of butternut squash, I decided to resurrect the pan and try again. I suspected that the color of the cake was related to the dark color of the pan. The King Arthur Baking Co. website gave a quite detailed explanation of the pitfalls of using a dark pan. The final recommendation was to lower the baking temperature 25 degrees.
I followed the directions exactly, but the result was the same as before. Even before I took the cake out of the pan, I had resolved to accept the final product.
With a finished product so rich, moist and tasty, the catalog picture no longer mattered.
Pumpkin Spice Loaf
- 11/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep an 8-1/2-by-4-1/2-inch loaf pan with shortening and flour or with baking spray.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sugars, vanilla, pumpkin, butter and eggs, and beat until smooth. Then fold in the flour mixture and milk, and mix until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap the pan gently on the counter to remove any bubbles. Bake about 40-50 minutes. The loaf is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.