I love requests. They presume an intimacy between you, the reader, and me, the writer, and that gives me warm fuzzies. So please don't be shy about sharing your favorite flavor combinations and challenging me to come up with recipes to satisfy your cravings.
I've only gotten two explicit requests so far. The first, from Bill S., was a fun challenge. He wanted to surprise his girlfriend with an amalgamation of her favorite foods in a single dish, and I happily obliged.
Then more recently, from Diana, I got this comment on my whole wheat zucchini bread post:
Would raisins soaked in a light rum be overkill in this recipe? Or is there another bread recipe in which they would work?
When I saw a pumpkin walnut bread recipe in the October issue of Gourmet, I knew I had a good starting point. To make it my own (and meet some of Diana's requirements), I drastically reduced the amount of refined flour and replaced it with both walnut meal and white whole wheat. I also slashed the sugar by a half cup and used brown instead of white, monkeyed a little with the spices, ditched the water, and used roasted pureed pumpkin instead of canned. (You can certainly use canned. I just happened to have some year-old roasted pumpkin in the freezer.)
(I know. That's old.)
Now here's where it got tricky. Diana requested grated acorn squash, and I just couldn't go there. I'm sure it would be delicious, and pretty, and if she wanted to fly to California and grate it for me I'd certainly let her, but laziness got the better of me. She also asked for "raisins soaked in a light rum." Here I unapologetically went for dried cranberries since I knew I'd be scarfing hunks of this for breakfast. It's just no good when I hit the booze before 8am.
Diana, I know you have a birthday coming up. This quick bread is my gift to you. Now all you have to do is buy the ingredients, make it, and serve it to your friends. It'll be like I'm there, except, of course, that I won't be. And you'll have to do the dishes.
Here's to you!
Recipe for Pumpkin Quick Bread with cranberries and walnut meal
I've adapted this recipe from the pumpkin walnut bread in Cindy Mushet's The Art and Soul of Baking (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2008), which appears in the October 2008 issue of Gourmet Magazine. Hint: I often grind twice as many nuts as I need and store the remaining nut meal in the freezer for future recipes.
Makes 1 loaf
1 cup walnuts
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each ground cardamom and ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup roasted pumpkin puree or canned pure pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350. Coat a 9x5 inch loaf pan generously with nonstick spray.
Toast the walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet for 3 to 5 minutes, watching carefully so they do not burn. Let cool. Set aside 1/2 cup of walnuts for later, and pulverize the other half in a food processor until finely ground.
In a large bowl, whisk together the ground walnuts, two flours, baking soda, spices, and salt.
In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the brown sugar, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk well. Trade the whisk for a rubber spatula and stir, scraping the bottom of the bowl thoroughly to incorporate any remaining flour particles into the batter. Add the cranberries and reserved toasted walnuts, and stir well. Transfer to the prepared loaf pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 55 minutes, or until the top is deep brown and a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then use a knife to loosen the loaf from the sides. Invert onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Do not slice until completely cool.