Last winter was a highly stressful season. The restaurant was incredibly taxing, and for reasons that are a little unclear looking back, I agreed to do a crazy weekly commute from Michigan-Ohio. I would work during the week at the farm in Oxford, and commute back to work the weekends at the restaurant. One of the great friends of my life runs the program at the farm, and she needed help. I needed to get away. It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time.
The biweekly drive was...harrowing. With the most frigid and dangerous weather seen for decades, driving up and down Indiana and Michigan twice a week was no joke. There were multiple instances when I was delayed by snow/ice/yetis, and couldn't make it from one end to the other.
There was no frivolous baking going on. No pumpkin bread, or gingerbread cookies, or mulled cider. It was all I could do-literally- to put one foot in front of the other.
So far this fall, things are looking up. I am loving Atlanta and m so glad to be here. We have settled into a routine, and until I find the right job, it's a very comfortable one. I work out at barre in the morning. We do yoga in the evenings. I make dinner most nights. There's lots of time for frivolous baking- and our apartment is spotless. The closets are color-coded. In the kitchen, there's a level of precise arrangement that I've never had enough time to achieve before. So, there's time for pumpkin bread. Plenty of time. And if I'm going to take the time, this is the recipe to make. It is the perfect pumpkin bread.
Try it. You'll see.
I love that the recipe makes two loaves, as it freezes beautifully (or makes a great seasonal gift). This recipe is slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated. I changed the spices a little and also added a cinnamon sugar coated loaf pan.
Here's how it's done:
This is my mise.
First, preheat your oven to 350.
Grease two 8 1/2" loaf pans very well with butter. Combine the 1/4 t cinnamon and 1/4 c. sugar. Dust each pan with the cinnamon sugar, until every inch is covered.
Set aside the coated pans.
Whisk together the 2 c. flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
Using your fingers, combine the streusel ingredients until the mixture feels like wet sand. Set aside.
Whisk together the eggs and the buttermilk until completely smooth. Set aside.
Combine the pumpkin, spices, and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir together well and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until the mixture has thickened slightly and reduced in volume.
Add the brown sugar, sugar, oil, and cream cheese to the warm pumpkin. Stir to combine, then set aside for about five minutes. You want the cream cheese to melt so it's easier to incorporate.
Whisk the mixture well to combine. Tiny chunks of cream cheese are okay.
Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the pumpkin mix.
Whisk well to combine.
Add the pumpkin to the dry ingredients, whisking just enough to combine. Small chunks of flour are okay. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Sprinkle each loaf with half of the streusel.
If you get batter on the edge of the pan, don't worry. The loaf will engulf it in the oven.
Bake in your preheated 350 oven for at least 45 minutes. This time, mine took a full hour. Loaves are done when a skewer inserted directly in the center comes out clean.
This is important! Cool the loaves in the pans for 20 minutes. Turn them out CAREFULLY and cool another 90 minutes before cutting. If you cut into one before they have cooled completely, the steam escaping is the moisture from your beautiful bread, and the loaf will dry out very quickly. You can wait. I believe in you.
Hang in there! Keep your eyes peeled for bread thieves...
Here's the recipe: