Sunday, November 2, 2008

Better Than Candy

I couldn't believe it. Yesterday I was leisurely strolling toward Union Square when it dawned on me that I somehow managed to breeze through Halloween without pumpkins. The signs at the Union Square farmers' market approached me, one at a time, with persuasion. Pumpkins! Last Chance! Half Price! Gone Soon! I selected an adorable 3 lb. sugar pumpkin for $2. It is now my autumn mascot - sitting on my kitchen counter, reminding me of the fall season. Soon I will turn it into fragrant, spiced pumpkin bread. Fresh pumpkin beats up on the canned stuff any day. To make your own puree, select a little sugar pumpkin (the big jack-o-lantern type tend to be too large and stringy); they are small and sweet, about 3-5 lbs, and they have a dark and flavorful flesh. Cut it in half and scoop out the strings and stem area and seeds from the middle (save the seeds for a roasted, salted snack!). Place the halves face down in a shallow baking pan and cover with foil. Bake at 350 for about 1.5 - 2 hours. Once the pumpkin has cooled off, scoop out the flesh and puree in a food processor, or mash with a potato masher or ricer.

Recipe for Punkin' Bread:

  • 3/4 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 7 tbsp room temp. butter (plus a little more for the pan... so you need about 1 stick)
  • 1 + 1/4 cups of flour (plus a little more for the pan)
  • 1 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp good salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare your loaf pan by greasing with butter and dusting lightly with flour. Whisk together the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, and salt - in a large bowl. In another bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, egg, and pumpkin. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and stir until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Below: Gremlin Gourds at the Union Square market.

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