Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Playing with Pumpkin (Or, really, Kabocha!)

Mis queridos amigos,

It seems a bit crazy to be writing about pumpkin bread today. After all, right now it's in the low 80s here in New York. But, well, we know that this probably won't be the case for too long! 

And speaking of before too long, I'll be back in ol' Mambo 64 stomping ground--at Broken Bow Brewery--on November 10th from 6 to 8, with my old friends, talking about using their fabulous beer to make some treats! (Please contact me for info on signing up for that class...it's filling up fast!) 

So last Saturday, as some of you know, I had the great pleasure of being at the New Rochelle Grand Market Farmer's Market, where I shared some of my fresh-baked pumpkin (kabocha) bread. Kabocha, pumpkin's cousin, is sweet and moist, with has dark green skin, and orange flesh that is slightly sweeter than pumpkin (and with more of a chestnut-like consistency). I have to say, that this is so moist, it's more like a bread pudding. Luscious, spiced, and sweet--though not overwhelmingly so--this is as delightful as a breakfast treat, as it is for a snack, or dessert. The key, I discovered, is baking (roasting) the kabocha separately, and then puréeing it. The result is totally worth the time! (And yes, my friends, I will share that slightly sparky (thanks to cayenne pepper) pumpkin soup, too. Maybe next time?!)  Would love to hear how you like this one! 
One of the Loaves! 

Sample Kabocha Bread--See those Raisins? 
With Peppe--showing off--at the Farmer's Market! 

Kabocha Bread 

Makes two standard-size loaf pans 


1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for greasing the pans
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 cups packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canola oil
About 3 cups of roasted kabocha purée (I wash the outside, cut about a 4-pound   squash into smaller pieces--quarters to eighths--seed it, drizzle olive oil and honey or brown sugar, and roast on a foil-lined pan at 400°  for about 35 minutes or until softened. Peel, coarsely chop, and purée in a food processor.)

Optional: 2/3 cup golden raisins and/or toasted pecans

1.  Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Butter the bottom and sides of 2 loaf pans. 

2.   In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

3.   In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, mix the brown sugar on the lowest speed to break up any lumps. Add 1 egg and continue to mix on low until smooth and incorporated. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, and mix on low until smooth and well blended. Shut off the mixer and scrape the mixture down the bowl.  Return the mixer to low then add the oil in a thin steady stream and continue to beat until fully blended.

4.    Add the flour mixture in 3 batches. Use a large rubber spatula to fold the mixture together until just incorporated. Fold in the roasted kabocha, along with the raisins and /or nuts,  if using.

5.   Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake until the the breads are firm and risen and the tip of a paring knife inserted in the center of the cake emerges clean, between 50 and 60 minutes (and you may want to rotate the pans once during the baking time). Transfer to a wire rack to let cool for about ten minutes minutes before inverting. Serve fresh and warm, or let them cool, wrap them and refrigerate for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. (I love it toasted...with a glass of port, and with some vanilla ice cream!)