205/365: Pumpkin Mini-Loaves
Credit: LibAmanda on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Thanksgiving in

Canada is October

My favourite time of year is fall. The leaves changing colour, no mosquitoes to swat, and pumpkin pie. 

Yes, Canadian Thanksgiving is officially Monday, October 13th, 2014 (but most of us make the big dinner on Sunday).

If you're one of those invited to Thanksgiving dinner, you might wish to bring some wine or dessert. And even though pumpkin pie is traditional, it doesn't always transport easily.

Believe me, people tend to refuse pumpkin pie if the filling has shifted or appears tampered-with. Of course it's never a good idea to leave an open bottle of arsenic nearby either.

If you are clumsy (like me), why not try gifting a pumpkin loaf instead? Unlike pie, there's little harm done if you drop it. Just brush the dirt off (kidding)

Up next is a 43 second video depicting what happens when food falls on the floor.

The Five Second Rule

by MrZoomzs

Pumpkin Bread vs. Pound Cake

How to keep it moist and tasty

I've made both pumpkin bread and pound cakes and the main difference is the amount of sweetener you add to the mix.

Pumpkin loaves tend to be dry whenever I've used sugar. Brown sugar is slightly better (has more moisture) but using grade A light maple syrup has been my favourite ingredient to use in pumpkin loaf recipes. 

According to Maple Syrup World, when you swap out sugar for maple syrup, you use less of it. It isn't a 1:1 ratio. Plus you need to cut back on some of the "wet" ingredients in your recipe. Most of the time, you use about 25% less maple syrup to replace sugar.[1]

Pumpkin Bread - BatterCredit: kuljuls on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericButter vs. Oil

I find butter to be more palatable and keeps my pumpkin loaves moist, however the choice is yours. 

Number of Eggs

I've tried recipes with one egg and three eggs. There are even some recipes that call for four eggs. I've been most happy using two eggs in my pumpkin loaves. I find one egg just doesn't allow it to rise enough.

Pumpkin Spices

PA113109Credit: joyosity on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericHere's the thing: I don't care for the heavy use of cloves and allspice in pumpkin pie recipes. I've never liked the premixed pumpkin pie spice that you can purchase either. The ideal quantities for these spices (that my daughter likes too) is as follows:

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Optional: 1/4 tsp. ground allspice (or cloves)
Optional: 1/3 tsp. star anise (if you grind it properly and there's no hard pieces in it)
New Variation: 1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice blend instead of ground allspice or star anise (this mix already has cloves and star anise in it)

Pumpkin Loaf with Gluten-Free Option

Makes: 1 loaf | Prep: 12 mins | Total: 1:20

I adapted my recipe from a Pumpkin Loaf recipe by Geraldine Hartman in her cookbook titled Not Just for Vegetarians. I made mine gluten-free (but just omit the xanthan gum and use regular flour if you wish). Also, she used oil (instead of butter), ground cloves (which I skipped), and chopped pecans. I prefer mine without nuts (or with walnuts instead).

For some reason, there was no sugar in her recipe at all, so I used just 1/2 cup of maple syrup and cut back on the water in her version. The maple syrup adds an earthy flavour without being overly sweet - the way white sugar or honey tends to be, I find.

If you wish to make your own pumpkin puree, you need to use a sugar pumpkin (not the kind you buy for Halloween). Also, check the ingredients on the pumpkin puree you are buying (some state they contain 100% pumpkin but are a mixture of pumpkin and squash). Don't use pumpkin pie filling (your spices will be way off).
* Add 1/4 tsp. salt to recipe if you are using unsalted butter
SlicedCredit: crystalflickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 cup salted* butter, at room temp (or oil)
14 - 15 oz. can Organic Pumpkin Puree (not pie filling)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup (Grade A Light)
1-3/4 - 2 cups gluten-free flour
2.5 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice blend (if on hand)
Optional: 1/2 - 3/4 cup walnut halves (or chopped pecans)
1/4 - 1/3 cup cold water (depending on how dough is forming)
Set out 1/2 cup butter from fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. (In a pinch, you can use the defrost setting on your microwave to soften it).
Make sure oven racks are adjusted so your pumpkin loaf will bake in the center and preheat to 350 F (180 C). Lightly grease and flour a 5 x 9-inch loaf pan. I use parchment paper in mine (photos next show you how). Just keep it in one piece, fold at the corners and trim the excess.
In a large bowl, beat 2 eggs, then add butter, organic pumpkin puree, vanilla, and maple syrup. Mix until thoroughly incorporated.
In a med-large bowl, whisk together gluten-free flour, xanthan gum (omit if using regular flour), baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spices (in the ratios you prefer). Gradually add to large bowl (with wet ingredients) and alternately add cold water until "just combined" (don't overdo it or it won't be as fluffy or melt in your mouth). Fold in walnut halves just before dough appears combined, if desired.
Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and bake 55 - 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes our clean. If after 45 mins, loaf appears to be browning too fast, cover with a tented piece of foil.
Allow to cool in pan for (at least) 10 minutes, this will allow the center to set some more. Slice and enjoy.
TIP: Refrigerate any leftovers. Wrap in plastic[2] and/or store in an airtight container to retain moistness. 

Select a Sheet of Parchment Paper

a few inches larger than your loaf pan

Parchment paper for loaf pan
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

Fold Parchment Paper at the Corners

The dough will help it flatten out some more

Fold corners of parchment paper
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

Trimming the Excess Helps it Stay in Pan

Trim excess parchment paper
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

Roll Edges Over the Sides

and your loaf pan is ready for the batter

Trimmed all edges and rolled back sides
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved

Don't Forget to Double Ingredients

if you wish to make two pumpkin loaves

Two Loaves
Credit: smalljude on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.o Generic