Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pumpkin~Cinnamon Streusel Bread

One of my favorite quotes is by M.F.K. Fisher (1908-1992), a food writer (27books) and founder of the Napa Valley Wine Library--"The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight."  Well, after baking pumpkin bread this morning in my kitchen, I can attest this is true.

Continuing with the pumpkin theme to honor Kelly for the month and again, answering a request from a dear friend, I have come up with this recipe that is perfect for the season.  For me, it's a wonderful change from the usual banana bread that I have baked so often, but it also brings back a memory in Kelly's kitchen before Ari was born.  I was in Kentucky to help Kelly set up the nursery, but she was also thinking about having something ready for when friends stopped by to see him.  We baked pumpkin bread and muffins in addition to some entrees and my pizza sauce to freeze for the occasion.
I remember the only place I could find canned pumpkin in Lexington in late April, was at the Whole Foods, but Kelly was pretty determined that's what she wanted.

During this visit, I also helped Kelly create her gardens in the front of her house; Matt and I did the ground breaking and adding the mulch, but it was Kelly's ideas of what she wanted in flowers.  I did convince her that perennials were the way to go, especially with a little one on the way and her time would be sparing for gardening :)  When she came home from the hospital last May, the garden was in full bloom and I can remember a smile on her face seeing it for the last time.  I think of this each time I see the the plaque in my studio that Kelly gave me when my second book was published with a line by my favorite poet and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson--"The Earth Laughs in Flowers."  And I smile.

Pumpkin~Cinnamon Streusel Bread
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 T unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Cut the butter into small cubes and use a pastry knife to cut into the sugar mixture.  Set aside.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 1T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cardamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp. Vanilla extract (or use 1 vanilla bean, scraping out the seeds)
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk (I had 1/3 cup of evaporated milk leftover from the pie, so I used that and added enough milk to bring it up to the correct measure)
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour (or use can substitute their Gluten-free flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts* rough chopped

*You can omit or use pecans.  Also, you may substitute raisins or dried cranberries--I would suggest reconstituting them in very hot water for 15 minutes to soften, then, drain.

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan or use a mini loaf pan, as I did this morning, with a non-stick baking spray.
Place walnuts (or pecans) on a baking sheet and toast for 7 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool before chopping.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar thoroughly.  Add the spices and vanilla extract (or seeds of a bean) and beat again.  I like adding my spices with the butter/sugar mixture to start releasing some of their essence.  Add the eggs, pumpkin puree, sour cream and milk and mix again, scraping the sides of the bowl, then, mixing again.
The mixture should be smooth and mix completely.  Remove from the stand and use, either a spatula or dough whisk, to add the dry ingredients--flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Lastly, stir in the chopped walnuts.

If you're baking in a loaf pan, spoon half of the batter into it, add the cinnamon streusel on top, then finish with the remaining batter.
Use an off-set spatula to spread out the batter

Spoon cinnamon streusel

Spread remaining batter over streusel filling, making sure you cover the edges completely
Bake mini loaves-30 minutes; regular loaf pan-45-55 minutes.  Use a toothpick or wooden skewer to check for doneness.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer loaves (or loaf) to a baking rack, lined with parchment or wax paper and cool completely before slicing.
I like this new mini loaf pan by Sur La Table.  The finish is so easy to clean up and baked goods just slide out.  Also, it makes the perfect size to give these golden loaves as gifts--which is also the theme of the month.  Vicki of "Stickhorsecowgirls" was the winner of the Vera Bradley card holder, but there will be other little gifts this month, not to mention the Witch Bag that will be given away on November 1st.


  1. loving that garden, so pretty xx

  2. These look yummy.... I am a big fan of anything pumpkin! I'm still wanting to try a pumpkin/ chocolate chip loaf cake. There is a bakery in Chico, where my daughter lives, that makes one we love. I would love to fin a good recipe to make it at home.

  3. that a challenge??? LOL!

  4. Mmmmm sound good. think i might try this recipe. what a beautiful garden.
    stamping sue

  5. Yes Susan... have you got a good recipe? Come on down to the Chico area and we can try out the one in the bakery! :) Bet you could match it!

  6. Next time I'm in California...We'll do the bakery!

  7. The mini loaves are the best - cause in the end you feel like you get more...HE HE HE! Another winner recipe! Next year you are going to have to have a pumpkin patch to keep you in a full supply!