Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread revisited
Pumpkin Bread from Starbucks used to be one of the things I waited for as summer faded into a sweet memory, the leaves fell around me creating a glorious carpet of yellow, orange and red, pumpkins starting popping up at every turn, and the weather got steadily colder.  I'd pop into my local cafe, alone or with friends, order a double tall latte or a chai tea latte and a thick slice of the Pumpkin Bread.  If alone, I'd sip and munch and read; when together with friends we'd laugh and talk and catch up on Life.

I am long way away from those friends now (miss you all!), and I don't frequent the local Starbucks here in Helsinki so I don't even know if they serve Pumpkin Bread.  But what I do without out fail every year is make Pumpkin Bread of my own to settle into to the new season, and serve it to the friends and family I've found here.

Hokkaido pumpkin and Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Bread
This year, I created a new recipe for Pumpkin Bread.  I wanted to use barley flour as it has a pleasant sweetness to it that I thought would pair well with pumpkin, and it creates a very soft crumb.  I'd used olive oil with pumpkin once before so I knew that it works (even better than butter!) so I added that too.  And then I've been working on recipes that replace refined sugars with natural sugars, and have been playing with molasses as a nearly forgotten sweetener. The molasses in here plays really well with the variety of spices in the Pumpkin Spice Mix, though I've toned the molasses down just a tiny bit with the addition of honey.

This is not a recreation of the Starbucks version.  What you end up with is a dark, intense, lightly sweetened Pumpkin Bread, with a nod toward gingerbread and with a light tangy note from the buttermilk.  It's a delicious combination, particularly when you top it with a bit of creme fraiche and then bite into the pecans and dried cranberries scattered throughout.  Feel free to swap the pecans for walnuts and the cranberries for raisins, if you wish.  Also, if you like a slightly sweeter bread, double the amount of honey.

Get your ovens warming and your coffee brewing, folks, you don't even need to leave home to try this one.  And you may find that it's a healthier version than the one I enjoyed all those years ago.

Pumpkin Bread with a spoonful of creme fraiche and a sprinkling of pecans and dried cranberries
Pumpkin Buttermilk Bread

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.  Lightly oil a loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl whisk together:
1.5 cups whole grain barley flour (all-purpose or gluten-free flours can be substituted)
3 teaspoons Pumpkin Spice Mix
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped

In a small bowl combine:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup molasses (see note below)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons honey

Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir well to combine thoroughly.  Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with soft moist crumbs.

Serve individual slices with a sprinkling of pecans and dried cranberries and a spoonful of creme fraiche. (Try making your own creme fraiche, you'll love it!)

Serves 12.

Note:  if you don't have molasses, you can replace both the honey and molasses and instead use 3/4 cup coconut sugar if you want to skip refined sugars, or 3/4 cup brown sugar, (which is, depending on the brand you buy, either unrefined sugar with residual molasses, or white sugar with molasses added to it.)

Labels: , , , ,