Pumpkin Bread is one of the very first things I learned how to make. The idea of it is so simple: mix a can of pumpkin with some sugar and some eggs, add some flour, lots of spices (I went heavy on the nutmeg, the cinnamon, the cloves), and pour into a greased loaf pan. An hour later your apartment smells like the greatest seasonal candle ever invented, only better than a candle because you can eat it. No wonder I made pumpkin bread so often. Now that I’m a mature statesman of gastronomy (ahem) I thought I would elevate my pumpkin bread game by changing one of the components in a major way; a way that contains a major secret.
The secret? This isn’t really pumpkin bread; it’s butternut squash bread! That just doesn’t sound as good (Nancy Silverton feels the same way and makes her “pumpkin bread” with yams). But I realized if I roasted my own butternut squash, and I mean really roast it (just to the edge of burnt), it would add so much more flavor to the finished product. Look how dark I got this squash:
I told you: this is serious stuff.
The rest is super simple, especially with my Vitamix S30. Check it out; you scoop the cooked squash into there and blend:
The rest was as easy as I mentioned at the beginning: into a bowl, white sugar, brown sugar, an egg, an egg yolk (this is a Nancy DeMasco recipe and she’s a big fan of just using a singular egg yolk in your baking):
Then the squash puree, sour cream (mmm), and vanilla:
Finally, your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, and lots of spices like cinnamon, cloves, and freshly grated nutmeg:
Pour that into a buttered loaf pan and bake at 350 for an hour and you have the very best homemade holiday gift you can imagine:
I wish you could scratch and sniff your screen to experience this: it’s that divine.
And though we weren’t entertaining the night I made this, Craig was trimming our Christmas tree; so I cut him a slice and he was most appreciative:
So treat yourself and your loved ones this holiday season to some Secret Spicy Pumpkin Bread. When they ask “what makes it taste so good?” just say, “That’s a secret…that you can easily find on a food blog called The Amateur Gourmet.” They’ll probably nod and back away slowly; and that’s all for the best.
Recipe: Secret Spicy Pumpkin Bread
Summary: Adapted from Karen DeMasco’s The Craft of Baking.
- 1 medium-sized butternut squash
- Grapeseed oil (a splash for the squash, 1/2 cup for the bread)
- Unsalted butter at room temperature (for the pan)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sour cream
- 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Pinch of freshly ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon Demerara sugar
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and rub all over with a splash of grapeseed oil. Place cut-side down on a cookie sheet and roast until deep dark brown and cooked-through, about 45 minutes. (Check after 30 minutes to make sure the squash isn’t getting too dark; if it is, flip it over and finish it that way.) You’ll know it’s done when a knife goes through really easily.
- Allow the squash to cool then scoop out the cooked flesh and place in a blender. Blend until you have a homogenous puree; set aside 3/4 cup and reserve the rest for another recipe (like soup!).
- Lower the oven to 350.
- Line the bottom of an 8 1/2 X 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and grease the bottom and sides with the softened butter (about 1 tablespoon).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg, egg yolk, and the 1/2 cup of grapeseed oil. Add the 3/4 cup squash puree, sour cream, and vanilla and whisk to combine. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and white pepper. Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Then whisk together gently to just combine.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the Demerara sugar.
- Bake, rotating the pan once, until the bread is firm to the touch, well browned, and slightly cracked on top, about 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let stand for 5 minutes. Then turn out the loaf onto the rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Preparation time: 45 minute(s)
Cooking time: 1 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6