A pumpkin spice treat you won’t be embarrassed to love

Roasted pumpkin loaves with salted breadcrumbs. Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times

The idea of another pumpkin loaf either makes you excited or makes your eyes roll out of your head. If you’re in the latter camp, I implore you to give my iteration a shot.

Because I like the idea of pumpkin spice things but not their execution, I developed this loaf to be about all the good qualities of the flavor — cloying lattes notwithstanding. I take real pumpkin and roast it with olive oil, salt and pepper to give the puree an umami edge.

The loaf gets a crown of salty bread crumbs, perfumed with the usual “spice” suspects; it’s the ideal contrast to the tender loaf cake. Freshly ground spices do make a difference, but use the pre-ground kind if that’s what you have (but please don’t use pre-ground nutmeg; the flavor is acrid and bitter).

ROASTED PUMPKIN LOAVES WITH SALTY SPICED BREAD CRUMBS

Makes 2 loaves.

Why such a strange amount of pureed pumpkin? Because it’s the same amount as one can of pumpkin puree, and if you insist on using canned, I want you to be able to swap it for the homemade version here. In that same vein, you can swap all the spices used in the bread crumbs here for 1½ tablespoons premixed pumpkin pie spice if you don’t have all those called for. Don’t want to mess with the bread crumbs at all? Omit them and the olive oil, and add the spices to the batter by whisking them with the flour in Step 3.

1 tablespoon everyday olive oil, plus more for greasing the pans

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pans

½ cup panko or plain bread crumbs

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground cloves

1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil (see note)

2/3 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1 3/4 cups pureed Roasted Pumpkin (see recipe below) or one 15-ounce can pureed pumpkin

Flaky sea salt (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans with some olive oil and dust with flour, tapping out any excess.

2. Make the bread crumbs: Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted, one to one and a half minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, cloves and three-quarters teaspoon salt.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and remaining one teaspoon salt. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, vegetable oil, buttermilk, vanilla and eggs until smooth. Whisk in the pumpkin. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

4. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, then sprinkle each with half the spiced bread crumbs; if you like, sprinkle each with a pinch of flaky salt. Bake the loaves side by side until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of each loaf comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.

5. Transfer the pans to racks and let cool completely. Unmold and slice or wrap in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to one week.

ROASTED PUMPKIN

Makes about 4 cups.

1 whole sugar pumpkin or kabocha squash (3 ½ to 4 pounds)

2 tablespoons everyday olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

2. Split the pumpkin from stem to blossom end. Scoop out and discard all the seeds and fibrous strings. Place the halves cut side up on the baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil, using your fingers to rub it all over the exposed flesh. Season the pumpkin liberally with salt and pepper. Bake until the pumpkin is very tender and lightly caramelized at the edges, about two hours.

3. Remove the sheet from the oven and let the pumpkin cool. While it is still slightly warm, scoop the pumpkin flesh from the skins and either mash it or puree it in a food processor. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days or freezer for up to two months; thaw before using.

Tribune Wire

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