recipe makeover: chocolate chip pumpkin loaf

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What an odd thing it is to travel back in time. All you need to do is insert a few words in a search toolbar and, voila!, a slew of posts from five years past greet you like old friends. Only your friends are blurred around the edges, harsh, your eyes squint as if you’re walking into the sun.

I’ve been baking this chocolate chip pumpkin loaf since 2007, and believe me when I say that the photos I’ve taken of this loaf, and its many incarnations, made me wince. The cringe-worthy close-ups {every novice food photographer starts with a close-up, because the need to get the detail in a chip or a piece of cake is critical. And the novice tires of this perspective and pulls back, in time, in need of the larger picture.} and errors in recipe writing put me to thinking that yesterday’s post is pretty apropos of this moment.

The past serves as a piece of information, context. The future is merely conjecture, and what we have, most definitively, is the present. Right now I like my food photography minimal, without ornamentation and styling. Right now, I like my loaves a little more virtuous so I can eat more of them, and allow for the taste of the pumpkin to come through.

In this latest incarnation, I’ve replaced 1 1/2 cup of white flour with whole wheat pastry flour. I’ve nixed 3/4 cup of sugar from the original recipe, and have mixed in almond extract for a note that cuts through the density and added in white chocolate chips for color and texture.

The result? A loaf that truly sings. Earlier versions were a bit too sweet and oily for my taste, while this loaf is full of flavor. Try it out + let me know how you score!

INGREDIENTS: Makes 3 loaves
1 cup cane sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup safflower or grapeseed oil
4 eggs, room temperature
1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups white flour
1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsps salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 standard 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pans

DIRECTIONS
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, beat the oil and sugars until combined. Beat in the eggs, puree, water and almond extract. You want to mix all of the ingredients until completely combined.

In a medium bowl, sift the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda + salt. Slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones until the flour mixture has been completely absorbed. The batter may look a little lumpy, don’t worry, and don’t overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter equally between the three pans, and smooth out the batter with an offset spatula. Bake the loaves for one hour, rotating the pans midway through the baking process. The loaves will be done when the a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

Rest the loaves in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Then turn out the loaves to the rack and cool completely. The pumpkin loaves are good for up to a week in an airtight bag/container, and can be frozen for up to a month.

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pumpkin spice rolls

pumpkin spice rolls
Happy New Year, friends! My mini respite is coming to an end as I’m back in the office tomorrow {insert wails}, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the fruits of my holiday labor. I’ve been on a bit of a bread bender lately, so after scoring a jarful of yeast I decided to go wild and make loaves of bread. And ever since I spied these lovely terracota rolls on Pastry Affair, I knew these needed to be introduced in my repertoire. Not quite savory and not quite sweet, these rolls straddle an androgynous flavor profile that makes them perfect for everything from nutella to savory, pungent cheeses. Last night I smeared cold French butter on these hot rolls and it was EVERYTHING.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from A Pastry Affair, with slight modifications
1/2 cup (118 ml) barely warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
1 cup (245 grams) canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups – 3 cups (318 grams) bread flour

DIRECTIONS
In a bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, sprinkle the yeast over the barely warm water and allow to sit about 5 minutes until activated (during this time the yeast will start to bubble and look frothy). Stir in egg, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, butter, spices, and salt. Gradually add bread flour, mixing until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry and will not come together, add small amounts of water until it does. Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add flour until it becomes workable; however, do not add too much flour or the bread will become dense. Now replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook and start to knead your dough on low speed.

Knead the dough for ten minutes, or until elastic. The dough will feel slightly sticky, but don’t worry — it will firm up as it rises. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in a warm place, about 2 hours. Punch down the dough before turning out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 equal portions (I did this by rolling the dough with my hands into a log so I can get ball-sized cuts) and shape each portion into a round ball. Place in a pan (or on baking sheets) coated lightly with cooking spray. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Serve hot.

To reheat buns, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Bake rolls for 5-8 minutes, or until hot.

pumpkin spice rolls
pumpkin spice rolls
pumpkin spice rolls