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JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: PUMPKIN LOG

JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: PUMPKIN LOG

I am not a fan of the entire pumpkin spice craze, the lattes and teas and candles and whatnot. I have a limited view of how pumpkin & its usual spices should be incorporated into food.

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For instance, this is wrong in so many ways.

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This, on the other hand, is funny.

Here is something I do approve of, seasonal, festive, and simple to make. I stole the recipe years ago from a blog on LiveJournal and have no idea who contributed it. It’s rather good and not nearly as difficult as you might think. This makes a lovely dessert for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any holiday occasion.

I realize that while many people have heard the term jelly roll*, they have probably never seen, tasted, or made one, it being a bit passé like bar le duc, prune whip, and croquettes. Too bad, because those old-fashioned dishes are fun and tasty.  Jelly roll might be thought of as the American version of a buche de Noel.

*I am speaking of jelly roll in the culinary sense. There are other meanings which Urban Dictionary covers.

Before serving, dust with powdered sugar. You can go all festive and decorate the plate, as I did here for a Christmas party.

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To serve, cut into one-inch slices.

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Variations: Use almond, maple, or orange extract in the filling, or add grated orange peel. I really don’t think this cake should be frosted as it is quite moist and sweet already. Chocolate goes well with pumpkin so a dark chocolate filling could be substituted for the vanilla cream cheese filling.

LESS SUGAR PUMPKIN BREAD

If you buy a small (16 ounces) can of pumpkin, that is just enough to make one pumpkin pie. But if you buy the big can of pumpkin because it’s cheaper, you might still only make one pie, and then you have half a can of pumpkin left over. You will put it in a dish in the fridge and intend to make it into muffins or pancakes, or you might put it in the freezer and intend to make a pie out of it, and we all know how that winds up, right?   Recently I threw out an unmarked frozen glob in the freezer which I realized about a week later was frozen pumpkin puree from God knows when.

I have been making pumpkin puddings – which is pumpkin pie filling baked without a crust – because it’s way easier than pie, and far fewer calories and less fat, and that works out very well, except when there’s half a can of pumpkin left over.  To that end, I thought pumpkin bread would be a good solution.

I found a Bobby Flay recipe at Epicurious for Pumpkin Bread, and I adapted it a little bit, primarily by cutting the sugar way down, but this is still plenty sweet. If you have leftover baked sweet potato or winter squash like Acorn or Butternut, use those in place of the pumpkin. This would be an excellent bread to serve thinly sliced with coffee or tea. It also toasts very well the next day.

LESS SUGAR PUMPKIN BREAD

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 – 1 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like your bread)
  • 1 16-ounce can pumpkin puree or half of one 29-ounce can (NOT canned “pumpkin pie filling”)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously grease (I use vegetable oil) and flour a glass loaf pan.*

[To grease and flour a pan: take about 1 tablespoon oil, Crisco, or other fat, and smear it around the inside of your pan, being sure to get up on the sides and in the corners. {I don’t recommend butter for this because butter is not entirely fat, and the fat-less portions will not coat a pan – leaving places where batter will stick.} Then toss in a generous tablespoon of flour and tilt the pan around to get all of the greased areas covered with flour. You might need a little more flour. Pour out any big excess of flour.)

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan and add the raisins and dates. Turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes, then drain thoroughly and set aside. This will remove any sulfur (used to keep dried fruit soft; it can cause allergic reactions and is unbelievably nasty if it seeps into the rest of the bread) and also soften and plump the dried fruit. (if you have more time, steep the rinsed fruit in hot tea or hot orange juice.)

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Combine softened butter, oil, and sugar, and cream with a wooden spoon until sugar is fully incorporated. Stir in the pumpkin, then add eggs, one at a time, until combined.

Add the flour, salt, and spices.

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Mix to completely incorporate dry ingredients. Mix in dates and raisins.

Scrape into greased and floured loaf pan. It will be a little soft and gooey and pudding-like, but don’t worry.

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Bake at 350 Fahrenheit for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool 15 minutes. Loosen around the loaf with a knife. Place a cooling rack on top of the bread, hold the pan and the rack, and flip it upside down to release the bread.

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While it is tempting to slice it right away, it will crumble if you do so. Let it cool at least 15 minutes and it will slice much more evenly.

Serve as is, or with softened butter or cream cheese. Let cool completely before wrapping for longer storage. A brown paper bag is really better than plastic wrap – the bread won’t sweat and get ugly and moldy.

Variations:

  • Add powdered or diced candied ginger.
  • Add up to 1 cup toasted chopped nuts.
  • Substitute brown sugar or turbinado sugar for all or part of the sugar.
  • Use all unbleached flour, OR all whole wheat flour.
  • * To use a metal loaf pan: preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake as above.
  • If you don’t want to use the raisins and dates, increase sugar to 1 cup. But you will find that if you soften the fruit in hot water as above, that it simply seems to melt into the bread rather than stay intact like odd little lumps. Also, golden raisins (sometimes called white raisins) are much more tender than black raisins.

 

 

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