Pumpkin walnut bread

Pumpkin Walnut Bread
Makes 1 loaf

This is the loaf you want on that gorgeous fall day, when it's too beautiful outdoors to fuss in the kitchen for long. It takes no time at all to whip this up because it is made using the muffin method, meaning you simply stir everything together by hand. The hardest part is measuring out all the spices. It freezes beautifully, so you might want to double the recipe and tuck one away for another day. Want to dress it up a bit? Add a generous layer of cream cheese frosting on top (and maybe in the middle as well) and try to resist cutting another slice.

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour ¾ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¹?³ cup (2¾ ounces) water
1½ cups (10½ ounces) sugar
1 cup (9 ounces) canned pumpkin puree
½ cup neutral-flavor vegetable oil (such as canola)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts

9 by 5-inch Loaf Pan, Parchment Paper, Large Bowl, Whisk, Medium Bowl, Silicone or Rubber Spatula, Cooling Rack, Serrated Knife

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the loaf pan with melted butter or high-heat canola-oil spray and line it with a piece of parchment paper that extends 1 inch beyond the edge of both sides of the pan. In the large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and salt until thoroughly blended. In the medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and water. Add the sugar and blend well. Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract and blend well.

2. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended and smooth. Add the walnuts and stir until they are evenly distributed. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and level the top.

3. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until the bread is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. To serve, cut into ½-inch thick slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife. Any leftovers should be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Getting Ahead
Pumpkin Walnut Bread freezes beautifully for up to 8 weeks when double-wrapped in plastic and placed inside a resealable plastic freezer bag. Defrost, still wrapped in plastic to avoid condensation on the cake, for at least 2 hours before serving.

Pumpkin Walnut Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting
Make the pumpkin bread as directed in the above recipe and let it cool. Generously spread ½ recipe Cream Cheese Frosting over the top. If you really like frosting, split the cake in half horizontally and spread a layer of frosting in the center as well (do this first, before you frost the top). Serve within 4 hours; otherwise, refrigerate until serving. Some people love this bread ice cold, but if you'd like to take the chill off, remove it from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

About Cindy Mushet
Cindy Mushet has been a pastry chef and culinary instructor for nearly 20 years, and began her career at the famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley. She has since headed pastry kitchens in restaurants and bakeries across California, from Napa Valley to San Diego. She has taught professional training courses at Le Cordon Bleu, the Culinary Institute of America, and the New School of Cooking, among others. She has also taught hundreds of recreational classes both in California and across the country.

For five years she wrote and published the highly regarded "Baking With The American Harvest," a quarterly baking journal with subscribers nationwide. Her first book, Desserts: Mediterranean Flavors, California Style, was published by Scribner in 2000. She was also a contributing writer to The Joy of Cooking, The Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies, and The Baker's Dozen Cookbook. Her recipes and articles have been featured in Bon Appetit, Fine Cooking, Gourmet Magazine, Country Home and The New York Times, among others. Her recipes were among the few to be chosen for inclusion in The Best American Recipe books (Houghton Mifflin), including the recently published 125 Best American Recipes of the Last 10 Years.

She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she is a patisserie chef-instructor in the Le Cordon Bleu program at The California School of Culinary Arts, and consults regularly with restaurants and bakeries on menu development and staff training. Cindy is a regular guest on KCRW's Good Food radio show. She has been a spokesperson for The American Butter Institute, and a guest chef at food conferences around the country. She founded the San Diego chapter of The Baker's Dozen. She helped to organize and moderate the first annual Worlds of Flavor Baking and Pastry Retreat at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley. She is a long-standing member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, as well as a member of The Baker's Dozen San Francisco and Slow Food. She received her culinary diploma from Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco, and in addition holds a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, and a certificate in Sustainable Agriculture from UC Davis.

Pumpkin walnut bread - this tea-cake like loaf is super moist and delicious, is good for breakfast or dessert, and can be wrapped up for gift-giving. This is the recipe Gourmet Magazine put in their review of the book. Very simple, with ingredients whisked together (no mixer involved). We can do a powdered sugar glaze dripping down sides, or just leave plain. It would be great to demo/present in the gorgeous Italian paper loaf pans that SLT carries - perfect for gifts.

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