I've been a bit late to the pumpkin party this year, although I cook with butternut squash a lot (it's my favourite vegetable), I don't often bake with it, but I decided to remedy that this week with a loaf of pumpkin bread (I say bread but I would call this a loaf cake...) and now I'm kicking myself for not getting in the game sooner because this cake is delicious...Seriously, seriously good!
It is an incredibly moist (but not soggy- that's important) cake, made so by the use of pumpkin puree (more than is usually used in pumpkin bread), sunflower oil, soft brown sugar, orange juice and eggs; with a delicious spiced pumpkin flavour- almost like gingerbread but...different...I threw in some dried cranberries because why the hell not and drizzled the baked loaf with an orange glaze which works really well with the pumpkin and spice. This (or variations of it) is definitely going to become part of my yearly must bakes.
Not only is this loaf delicious, it contains quite a lot of pumpkin which is really good for you, as are cranberries and cinnamon, so I'm calling it...this bread is practically a health food! (At least that's what I'm telling myself...).
If you wanted to make it even more healthy you could swap half of the flour for wholemeal. You can also make muffins from this mix, just bake them at the same oven temperature for about 18-20 minutes. The cake also keeps really well in an airtight container for a week or so (in fact it improves after a day or two), if you can really make it last that long...I doubt it!
Canned (tinned if you're British) pumpkin puree isn't really a "thing" in Britain, you can occasionally find a grossly overpriced tin in the American section of supermarkets but thankfully it is easy to make your own (I prefer to make things myself anyway).
Simply heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5, slice a small pumpkin or butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, place face down in a roasting tin and bake for about 45 minutes until fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little then peel off the skin and puree the flesh in a food processor/with a hand blender/potato ricer until smooth.
Don't use the large carving pumpkins as they are stringy and don't have much flavour, any variety of small pumpkin or squash is fine, I use butternut squash as it is easy to get hold of and is less stringy than pumpkin (I also read that most canned pumpkin puree is actually butternut squash anyway). It is also fine to use canned pumpkin if you have it, but don't use the pre-spiced one.
You can swap the dried cranberries with an equal quantity of fresh ones, or use chocolate chips, chopped nuts or pretty much anything else you fancy chucking in- go wild!. The orange juice in the glaze can be substituted for maple syrup to make a delicious maple glaze or use milk/water/rum/any other liquid you want really; milk with a pinch of cinnamon to make a cinnamon glaze for a bit of extra spice would be tasty.
- 150g (¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 100g (½ cup) dark brown soft sugar
- 2 eggs
- 120ml (½ cup) sunflower oil (or other flavourless oil)
- 60ml (¼ cup) orange juice
- 340g (1 and ½ cups) pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
- 220g (1 and ¾ cups) plain flour
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- 120g (1 cup) dried cranberries
For the glaze:
- 75g (¾ cup) icing (powdered) sugar
- 1 tbsp orange juice
Place your oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Placing the loaf in the lower part of the oven rather than the centre helps to prevent the top from browning too much too soon. Grease and line a 9x5 inch loaf pan with baking parchment. Set aside.
Whisk together the sugars, eggs, oil, orange juice and pumpkin puree in a large bowl until smooth, in a separate bowl mix together the flour, bicarb of soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet and gently mix together with a spatula, do not overmix. Fold in the cranberries then pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for about an hour. Halfway through the baking time, cover the loaf with tin foil to prevent the top from browning too much. Start checking for doneness after 55 minutes, a skewer inserted into the centre should come out with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter, my loaf took an hour and 10 minutes to cook but the time will vary depending on your oven.
Place the tin on a wire rack and leave the cake in the pan until completely cold. To make the glaze, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the orange juice. Remove the loaf from the tin and drizzle over the glaze before slicing. The bread will keep in an airtight container for about a week.
(Recipe adapted from http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/09/08/pumpkin-chocolate-chip-bread/)