About a week ago, I decided to try making my own pumpkin purée and then a pumpkin bread recipe. When you live in China, keeping Western seasonal traditions alive (such as making pumpkin recipes in the fall around Halloween and Thanksgiving) seems much more important for some reason.
So first, I peeled a Chinese pumpkin, cut it into chunks, and roasted it in my toaster oven. Then I mashed it up with a fork, and threw it in the blender for a few whirls to smooth it out. Then, I looked up a pumpkin bread recipe on Epicurious.com, and came up with this Walnut-Cranberry Pumpkin Loaf.
The resulting loaf turned out pretty good – very moist and dense, and pretty much everything pumpkin bread should be. We enjoyed it, shared it with friends, and it was gone within a day.
But then, a few days later, I made these pumpkin muffins. I needed to use up the leftover pumpkin purée that I had in the fridge, and an easy quick-bread recipe was up on the Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen site. Quick breads are awesome when you don’t have an electric beater – made with oil instead of butter, you can mix the whole thing up with a wooden spoon in next to no time. So I sort of blended this recipe and my own favorite banana bread recipe (which is amazing and I will tell you about it soon, promise).
The resulting pumpkin muffins? Tender, fluffy and light, but still rich and moist. So different from the pumpkin loaf I made earlier, but so, so good.
So the verdict is… dum dum dum…
The quick-bread recipe was faster, easier, and the muffins stayed moist longer. I think it wins as my go-to recipe for something simple and fast. The recipe also worked well for a muffin (light and fluffy), and we like the portability of muffins.
The cranberry pumpkin bread was good too, if you like a denser, more rustic loaf, but took a little more elbow grease (creaming butter and sugar together without an electric mixer). This recipe is a little too dense for muffins, I think, but who’s to stop you from trying?
Quick-Bread Pumpkin Muffins
adapted from Tracy at Tasty Kitchen
1 ½ cup flour
pinch of salt
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup oil
¼ cup buttermilk
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¾ tsp ground ginger
Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C. In large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, eggs, buttermilk, sugars, salt and spices.
Measure out one cup of flour in a dry measuring cup, and level the top with a knife. Dump this on top of the wet ingredients. Then measure the remaining ½ cup flour, and mix the baking soda into the flour, right in the measuring cup. Add this to the wet ingredients too. Mix everything together until smooth. (Look! A one-bowl recipe!)
Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about an hour or until a wooden pick inserted into cake comes out clean. If you’re making muffins, you’ll probably just need to bake them for 20 to 25 minutes. Check at the 15-minute mark, and continue checking every few minutes after that. Don’t overbake them or they may be dry.
Pumpkin Cranberry-Walnut Bread
Adapted from Epicurious.com
I have adjusted the level of spices for this recipe, as most reviewers said the original recipe didn’t have enough flavor.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cinnamon, 1.5 tsp ginger, ¾ tsp nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (or mix of brown and white sugars)
2 large eggs
1 generous cup baked fresh pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a loaf pan and line with parchment if you wish.
Mix dry ingredients – flour, spices, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl.
Beat butter in a separate bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until pale yellow and incorporated. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in pumpkin and vanilla.
Mix in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Fold in cranberries and nuts. Scrape batter into pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon white sugar.
Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool for about 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely (this is why lining the pan with parchment paper is a good idea).