It’s easy to feel swamped by pumpkin everything in the autumnal landscape but pumpkin to some of us is quite a modern thing.
While there were definitely pumpkins for sale in my childhood they were expensive and certainly not the size and multitude they seemed to be in the US. No we had turnips (which is as exciting as it sounds) and last year I thought I’d carve one to honour the ancient Irish tradition. I was even using Dremel and it was still a nightmare! It fought me the whole time, it refused, it spewed gross out me, it was a serious fight and took me 3 hours over 2 days to carve one! I swore never again, but as the pumpkins rotted away within weeks to a sticky stinky paste my turnip hanging up shriveled and look, well a like severed head. In fact it hung out through rain, rain and some frost all the way until Beltane!
I haven’t sworn off pumpkins (though many Brits still are not sold on them) I do have the advantage that I got gifted a load of canned pumpkin.
Again pumpkin pie isn’t really big in the U.K. at Samhain time. That said, I like it a lot. However I think it’s much under-rated in sweet and my personal preference, savoury food. You can eat the pumpkins for sale around Halloween, though they are breed to look pretty not taste good you can wash and slice, steam or roast them up a treat. You can wash and dry the seeds and toast them and eat them too! Where I give measurements of pumpkin, I’ll be using mostly canned because I have it but you can always use fresh cooked pumpkin.
In the U.K. we use a lot of dried fruit. The reason for this is natural dried fruit has a high sugar content and was used to sweeten before mass produced sugars were available. Things like spices and raisins were also medicinal. Often used to add warmth into the body living in a rather cold, damp and windy climate. This is why treacles (molasses) and dried fruit are common in everything from bara brith (a Welsh sweet bread loaf) Christmas puddings, Christmas cake and mince pies. Molasses is also known for its medicinal properties being as it is high in iron, B vitamins and Magnesium. Many sweet treats were a way to get these health benefits into children who might refuse otherwise. Parkin is a traditional sweet treat from the wet and windy areas of Northern Britain, eaten around the Autumnal time of year. It has more treacle than my pumpkin recipe, and more ginger but I wanted to have that smoky warming quality in my bread. I also added white chocolate and dark chocolate chips because again our British palette prefers less sugar and I didn’t want to make a loaf you wouldn’t want to eat! I also had to get the giant bag of chocolate chips out of the cupboard to reach the flour and stuff and it seemed rude not to! You could leave out the chocolate and use dried fruit soaked in something boozey, like a rum or brandy or strong black tea. This recipe makes two regular loaves.
Spiced Pumpkin Bread (Sweet)
Much like banana bread you can use this batter to make muffin shapes should you desire, you’ll need to adjust the cooking times accordingly.
1 can of pumpkin
115 grams of butter or replacement
3 eggs (or 2 large duck eggs)
250 grams golden granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp fine salt
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp allspice
230 grams self-raising flour
1 tbsp. rye flour
1 tbsp. treacle (molasses)
¼ cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup dark chocolate chips.
I creamed my butter and sugar together and beat with a balloon whisk (feel free to use a mixer) and add my spices. Adding your spices to your fats allows the essential oils naturally within them and flavours to develop more deeply. I added my pumpkin puree and eggs one at a time. I then added the treacle.
In a separate bowl I mixed my salt, flours and baking powder whisking to aerate and remove lumps. Then slowly folded with a spatula into the wet mix. I wanted to give a nod to Parkin’s rich nutty flavour without adding fine oat meal to the mix, which is why I add the rye flour. This again is very high in iron and B vitamins but it also gives a really great depth. This gives the loaf a deeper darker flavour to it.
I then gently mixed in my chocolate chips and dived the mix between two greased loaf pans.
I then put them into a pre-heated oven at about 180 C for thirty minutes or until a tooth pick comes out cleanly.
Shoo away your children and partners until cool enough to cut sensibly. Great as a desert alone or cold with sharp Cheddar cheese. It should last well if kept in a cake tin or airtight container for about a week, but good luck with that!