Thursday, October 23, 2008

Harvest Bread

I felt I had to do it. Not that I did not want to, you understand. It is just that this warm, autumn-loving loaf has travelled the planet with me for years, since long before I left New York the first time. It was then that the season's predictable pumpkin breads did not have enough oooomph to make me want to get mixed up mixing them up. After much tinkering, the recipe that appears before you now was developed and I have never been sorry to have tried and retried to arrive here. The only thing that held me back in passing this on to you is that just every big food blog feels compelled to pass on their pumpkin and squash recipe to you this month. I read them. All. And I am just gourded-out at the moment. One might say the gourd thing has lost a little magic due to remarkable overkill.

On the flip side though, if I turned up with an artichoke recipe now you would think I was daft and completely out of. It is hard to win them all, no? So, if you too feel put upon by pumpkin, look away. I will not hold it against you, kind one. Just stop back tomorrow when I move back to, well, whatever strikes me, seasonal or not.

Here you have it. My prized fall bread recipe. Call it an heirloom because that is how I think of it. As time has passed there have been changes and additions according to the contents of the pantry or the tastes of the tasters but the recipe that appears here: Pumpkin, apples, walnuts, and ginger is the one that is always best and certainly endures for that reason.

Harvest Bread with Cream Cheese Cinnamon Icing
Makes two 9x5 loaves, a two layer 8" layer cake, or 24 muffins

Canola spray or softened butter for greasing pans
3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 15 ounce can solid pack pumpkin
4 eggs
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Cream Cheese Cinnamon Icing:
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
4 + cups confectioners sugar (have more standing by)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the two loaf pans and set aside.

In a medium bowl sift in the dry ingredients: Flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, oil, and both sugars.
Add the pumpkin, beat until combined, an scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time beating between each addition. Add flour mixture and beat again until combined, scrape the bowl down again. Fold in the apples and walnuts with the spatula.

Divide batter between the two loaf pans. Bake until the center of each cake bounces back to the touch, 50-60 minutes, checking after 40 to switch or turn pans for even browning. Cool in pans for 20 minute then turn out onto racks and cool completely, about 1 hour additionally before icing the cakes.

Icing: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the cream cheese and butter. Mix together until evenly combine, scraping the bowl down once in the process. Add 4 cups confectioners sugar and cinnamon and mix until combined. Check the consistency and taste of the icing with a small spoon. If the icing is not stiff enough for your taste, add more confectioners sugar in small amounts and mix until you are pleased. As with all icings of the creamed nature, if you find it too tight, add one teaspoon of milk at a time until you reach your desired consistency.

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