Pumpkin olive oil snacking bread
Every year at Thanksgiving, I buy way too much canned pumpkin. I don’t even really like pumpkin stuff that much – I’m no raging pumpkin spice fan. But I make a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie every year and I never look up how much pumpkin you actually need to pull it off, plus pumpkin is always on sale in November. So I end up with like six cans of the stuff and never know what to do with it. But yesterday, an overcast and cool day – spring is still a ways off out here – said pumpkin called to me: make a pumpkin bread.
If you haven’t yet heard about Yossy Arefi’s cookbook Snacking Cakes, well, I am delighted to be the one to tell you about it. It’s GOOD. First of all, the whole premise, of simple cakes you can whip up with minimal equipment and pantry ingredients, of cakes you can snack on in the middle of the afternoon, of cakes you can dress up or dress down, of cakes that can be baked in a variety of pans with equal success – the whole idea of the book is like a dream.
And the cakes themselves? They are delicious. I am working my way through the book: All the Spices Cake, Powdered Donut Cake (this one was especially delightful), Spiced Honey Cake, the Mostly Pears version of the Mostly Apples Cake, Salty Caramel Peanut Butter Cake….as you might be able to tell, I got this book in the winter, and am fully enamoured with the “warm and toasty cakes” section. I haven’t even waded into the chocolatey cakes section yet!
These cakes – apart from being delicious – are incredibly non-fussy. There’s no creaming of butters and sugars, so no need to drag out your stand mixer. Every one that I have made has been a one-bowl affair, so it’s minimal mess. You can mix them up in minutes, and often I am waiting for the oven to finish preheating because it’s so quick to pull together. She has options for dressing them up with various glazes and frostings, but they also stand alone, simple and proud. She makes suggestions and offers instructions for various pans for all the cakes, and offers flavor
Anyway, I’m a fan. This is an excellent cookbook. It would be a most excellent cookbook for a beginning baker, and it is absolutely a wonderful addition for experienced bakers as well.
When that pumpkin called out to me yesterday, Yossy Arefi’s book didn’t let me down. Her book includes a recipe for a pumpkin olive oil cake (with a maple olive oil glaze), and while it sounds delicious, I was aiming more for a suitable hearty snack for small children, so I made some modifications to her recipe to up the whole-grain goodness and reduce the sugar, and ended up with more of a spiced pumpkin bread. But this is essentially her recipe. I baked it in a small Pullman loaf pan (that weird loaf pan for pain de mie that has a lid, the dimensions of mine are 9″ x 4″ x 4″), because it was already sitting out on my counter from a sourdough sandwich loaf I baked earlier in the day. You could definitely bake in a regular loaf pan as well.
Incidentally, I made a big vat of crème fraîche earlier in the week, in my Instant Pot. Inspired by my favorite dessert in Seattle – the extraordinary zucchini bread at the Whale Wins – I served slices of this cake with a dollop of crème fraîche and a sprinkle of chunky salt on top. And this morning I even fried each piece in a little butter before adding the same. Consider this a strong serving suggestion.
Also, that crème fraîche miracle? That was thanks to this book by Claudia Lucero. I had no idea how easy it was to make; no more $8 cups of the stuff from the grocery store for me.
Ok, onto the recipe. This is modified from the pumpkin olive oil cake in Yossy Arefi’s excellent book.
Pumpkin olive oil snacking bread
- 133 g light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 250 g pumpkin purée
- 120 ml olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp cardamom Optional. I didn't have any on hand, so skipped it, but I think it would add to the flavor.
- A few grinds black pepper Optional. I skipped this because my youngest is very pepper-averse, but it would be a delicious surprise.
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 150 g all purpose flour
- 40 g whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- unsalted butter (or nonstick spray) for greasing the pan
Center a rack in your oven and preheat to 350°F.
Cut a piece of parchment to fit the base and long sides of your loaf pan, so it will behave like a sling when it is time to lift the loaf out. Butter the inside ends of the pan, and dab a little butter on the sides and bottom to help the parchment stay put. Line the pan with the parchment.
In a large mixing bowl, add the brown sugar and two eggs. Whisk together thoroughly, for about a minute, ensuring the mixture turns pale and foamy.
Add in the pumpkin puree, olive oil, salt, and spices. Whisk again until thoroughly and completely combined.
Add the two flours, baking soda, and baking powder right into the bowl, and whisk until thoroughly combined and smooth.
Pour your batter into the prepared loaf pan. Tap the pan gently against the counter. You can smooth out the top with a spatula if you like, ensuring it is flat across the whole pan.
Bake! This will probably take anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour, but you know your oven. Check it at 50 minutes – I used the toothpick test, and it was domed and golden.
Remove from the oven and move to a cooling rack. Let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before carefully lifting it out with your parchment sling and allowing it to cool completely (or as completely as you can stand!) on a cooling rack.
Serving suggestion: this is delicious if you fry a slice in a little butter and top with a dollop of crème fraîche and a small sprinkling of chunky salt, or Greek yogurt.