Sunday, May 19, 2019

Baker's Corner: Pumpkin Spiced Chocolate Chip Bread


You know whenever I open Instagram during the fall/autumn season, I see a deluge of pumpkin and squash recipes. An orange-kissed feast for the eyes! Every year I have this tendency to bookmark half a dozen recipes but somehow never get around to making them. 

Living in Singapore, we don't have fall. We don't have distinct seasons at all really. We have hot and humid summer all year round (and that may sound like a good thing but we do sometimes wish otherwise!). We do get rain pretty every month but it usually isn't a depressing gloomy spell of weather that seems to last forever. The rain patterns are quite random, short-lived and provide much-needed respite from the relentless heat. 

Residents of Singapore don't really have to wait for seasons to enjoy seasonal produce. Most of Singapore's fruits and vegetables are imported from the rest of the world. So, we really can enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables that are considered seasonal, all year round such as pumpkin, butternut squash, yam, beets, sweet potatoes, avocado, asparagus, melons, fresh berries, pineapple, lychee, longon, dragonfruit and stone fruits. Hitting the right vegetable and fruit seasons will obviously enhance the flavour of the produce and make the produce slightly more affordable but I don't really find it significant. Only fruits like durian and mango show up in markets during specific months and enjoy royal status! 


I use butternut squash and pumpkin in my cooking only occasionally. Mostly in soups, salads, pasta and risotto. I used to use it much more frequently when my twins were toddlers, making homemade puree and freezing individual containers to be mixed in with their food whenever suitable. I suffer from a lack of creativity when it comes to the squash family and I've been looking to change that. 

I recently wanted to bake something that would serve as an evening snack for my kids. Anything homemade surpasses the processed snacks available in supermarkets so I do occasionally make the effort. I didn't want it to be something too sweet and indulgent though. So I searched online for some pumpkin bread recipes. There are a lot of recipe out there but I sat down and formulated my own with mixed nuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips. What started off as a recipe testing actually ended up on my blog because everyone  at home loved it and I definitely would want to make this again! To me it is always a good sign if my kids ask for second (and third) helpings and hours later also remember to ask for it! I used a generous amount of homemade pumpkin puree, aromatic spices, mixed nuts and chocolate chips so the bread turned out naturally yellow hued, intoxicatingly fragrant, sweet, nutty and moist with delightful bursts of chocolate. This recipe below states 3/4 cup sugar but you can slash it to 1/2 cup if you are keen on reducing the sugar content because the inherent sweetness of the pumpkin and the chunks of chocolate make up for it. 

This is a great recipe (if I do say so myself 😉). It is very easy, doesn't require creaming/persistent beating and has pretty a simple ingredient list so as long as you can get your hands on orange pumpkin or butternut squash, you are good to go!

Pumpkin Spiced Chocolate Chip Bread 

Prep time: 30 min; Cook time: 45 - 50 min; Cooling time: 10 min
Total time: ~ 1 hr 30 min
Servings: Makes 1 loaf
Recipe category: Dessert or Snack/Western
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe source: Inspired from various websites

Ingredients:

1 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour, spooned into measuring cup and levelled-off
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (adjust according to sweetness desired)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup thick pumpkin puree, store-bought or homemade (refer method below for making homemade pumpkin puree)
1/4-1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used walnuts, almonds and pistachios)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips + extra for sprinkling on top before baking

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (~ 162°C) and set an oven rack in the middle position. 

2. Measure out all the ingredients. 

3. If you are making the pumpkin puree at home, peel, cube and measure 300 gm of pumpkin. Microwave with half a cup water for 5 min on high partially closed. Insert a knife to ensure the pumpkin is fully cooked. Drain, cool and purée in a blender (without water). 

Note: the cooking time will depend on your microwave setting so check intermittently for doneness



4. Generously grease one 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with butter and dust with flour. I used an oven-safe glass baking dish.

5. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whisk until well combined; set aside.


6. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until just blended. Add the egg and beat well. Continue beating until very light and fluffy, a few minutes. Beat in the pumpkin puree. 




7. Add the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until combined. 


8. Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.


9. Turn the batter into the prepared pan, dividing evenly. Sprinkle a few more chocolate chips all over he surface of the batter.


10. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 


11. Let the loaf cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

12. Fresh out of the oven, the loaf has a lovely browned crust. If they last beyond a day, you can toast individual slices to get the same fresh-baked effect.


13. Slice with a sharp serrated knife and store in an air-tight container. 



Notes:
  • Instead of pumpkin you could use butternut squash too
  • Instead of microwaving the pumpkin, you could steam or roast it in the oven too. I find the microwave gets the job done in the shortest time with the least clean-up 😀
  • You can use any nut of your choice - almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, or pistachios. Adjust the quantity of nuts based on your preference
  • You can omit the nuts and chocolate chips if you like but I suggest keeping them as they elevate the bread to almost a dessert-like status! 
  • The bread can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, wrap it securely in aluminum foil, freezer wrap or place in a freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.



Cheers,
Megha

1 comment:

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