Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pumpkin Ginger Bread with Hazelnuts


England needs to get on the pumpkin bandwagon. Yes, yes, we all know it's a "new world food" but that hasn't stopped the joys of tomatoes, turkey, sweet potatoes, etc. from making their way back across the pond. Pumpkins should be included in the list. And no, I don't just mean for Halloween purposes. Every year Tesco gamely puts out a crate of pumpkins right around October 31st. And from what I can deduce, no one buys them.
They sit there quietly rotting.
And weeping.
Also quietly.
Every once in awhile someone buys them for jack-o-lantern purposes but you can hear the poor pumpkins whimpering because they know their glorious tasty guts are being wasted. And once Halloween is past, the pumpkins disappear and Americans, come Thanksgiving time, search for them in vain.

No pumpkin pie for you.

And, really, that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what pumpkins can provide in terms of deliciousness. For some reason, don't ask me why, English Starbucks have yet to realize the true joys of the pumpkin spice latte. Everyone in America (so far as I can tell) looks forward to autumn for this precise reason. The appearance of pumpkin spice lattes (and pumpkin spice muffins) at Starbucks. Parades are held. Parties thrown. Why? Because they are delicious.

Ah well, allow me to add yet another reason why England needs to figure their pumpkin issue out. Pumpkin bread. With hazelnuts (which are uber-British and therefore I deem this recipe "fusion food"). And ginger. And cinnamon. And nutmeg. How can this ever be wrong?
This recipe is simple. And delicious. Coming straight from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything (Vegetarian)". I don't know why this particular loaf ended up in this version rather than the meat-eating one (do you put bacon in that version?) but regardless, it's phenomenal. If this doesn't get the Brits onto the pumpkin-eating bandwagon, nothing will.

Ingredients
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, plus butter for the loaf pan
2 cups all purpose (or plain) flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup apple juice (or non-alcoholic cider)
1 1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup grated pumpkin (raw)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Grated pumpkin, not as hard as you might think.



Method
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.


Stir the dry ingredients together. Cut the butter into bits, then use a fork or 2 knives to cut it into the dry ingredients until there are no pieces bigger than a small pea.

Beat together the juice, ginger, and egg. Pour into the dry ingredients, mixing enough just to moisten; do not beat and do not mix until the batter is smooth. Fold in the pumpkin and hazelnuts, then pour/spoon the batter into the loaf pan.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on the rack for 15 minutes before removing from the loaf tin.

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