A friend of mine posted a lovely pumpkin photo on facebook, explaining that it was her share of the pumpkin harvest from her local community gardens. There was a delightful variety, from kumikumi, buttercup squash and butternut to Marina di chiaggia. The latter is a variety i'd not previously come across that looks amazing, with a highly textured blue-grey skin. Lee wrote "thinking soup of course, pumpkin pie, roast pumpkin and pumpkin bread". That reminded me of
a recipe my workmate had given me after i had sampled some of her delicious pumpkin bread. The recipe comes from "Leith's Contemporary Cooking" by Prue Leith, Caroline Yates & Alison Cavaliero. I'm pretty sure it is an American publication, as not only does it include imperial measurements, it calls for a '15 oz can of pumpkin puree'. So far as i am aware, only Americans routinely can pumpkins.
As well as changing the instructions to allow for the use of fresh pumpkin, i've made a few other changes to ingredients and cooking instructions; for instance why use unsalted butter and then add a teaspoon and a half of salt to the mix?
Furthermore, I never have buttermilk, so i just substituted ordinary milk. HOWEVER i've just been reading up on buttermilk, and find it is very easy to make your own equivalent (mix 2 teaspoons of white vinegar or lemon juice into 150 ml of milk and leave it for around 10 minutes at room temperature to thicken). Peter Gordon writes that you should always use buttermilk for soda breads (or any baked goods that use baking soda) because 'the acidic buttermilk interacts with the alkaline baking soda to produce carbon dioxide which gets trapped in the dough and helps the mixture to rise'. Too late for me this time - my pumpkin bread is already cooling on the rack - but next time i will definitely use the milk and vinegar substitute.
CURRIED PUMPKIN BREAD
With minor changes from the recipe in 'Leith's Contemporary Cooking'
Makes 2 loaves
225 g plain flour
225 g polenta or coarse yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
45 g caster sugar
85 g butter
2 onions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon whole cumin seed
500 g cooked pumpkin (roast or boiled), well mashed (about half a small pumpkin to get this amount) or... 1 x 425g can of pumpkin puree
150 ml buttermilk (see header notes for an easy substitute)
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Line two loaf tins with baking paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda together into a bowl and stir the polenta and sugar through the mix.
Melt 30 grams of the butter in a frying pan and add the onions, all the spices and the salt. Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add the rest of the butter to the mix so that it melts. Put the mashed pumpkin, eggs, milk and onion-spice-butter mix into a large bowl and whisk together (if you have just cooked the pumpkin especially you can do this in the pot you've used for the pumpkin).
Make a well in the flour mixture, add the pumpkin and onion mixture, stirring well to form a batter. Pour into the prepared loaf tins.
Put on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the loaves spring back when touched.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin. Then remove from the tins and leave to cool on a wire rack.