Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

How the candied pecans looked coming right from the stove.

...and how they look separated. They're all glossy!
When these came out the kitchen smelled like warm pumpkin and cinnamon.

Yet again it's another cold Saturday here in Memphis where the ice is coming down like mini hail. The weather predicts that soon it'll turn into snow. Yesterday the temperature was 63, and now it's 33 and icing...and people wonder why they're always sick here. I wanted something warm since it's so messy and cold outside, so what better than some warm bread?

I found this recipe from It's a pumpkin bread with nuts and a swirl of cream cheese. I thought it looked pretty, and I had the ingredients, so I decided to make it. One bad thing about this bread is that it uses up a lot of dishes. Another bad thing is that after I finished everything (cleaning included), I looked down to see that my cream jacket I have on has nice little splots of orange pumpkin bread batter all over the front. This is what I get for wearing cream I guess. It's kind of like when you eat spaghetti it's inevitable that you'll be wearing white that day.

Moving on from my inability to bake with dirtying myself, this bread tastes amazing...well ok the batter tastes really good, the bread is still baking in the oven. I did tweak the original recipe slightly though. I added some maple syrup and I made some candied pecans to go on top for an extra layer of crunch. If you didn't know--I'm all about multiple textures. I hate eating something with one texture; it's just not fun. If you look at the ingredient list and freak out that there's so much sugar and butter in it, remember that it's making two whole loaves of bread. It's not like you're eating 2 sticks of butter on your own, which reminds me of Kate Hudson in Bride Wars where she was in her Butter of the Month club. :)

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounce package cream cheese, room temperature (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 & 1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Pumpkin Bread:
1 cup pecans or walnuts
3 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 15-ounce can of pure pumpkin 
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 & 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Butter and lightly flour two 9 by 5 x 3 loaf pans. Set aside.
Toast nuts by placing on a baking sheet in oven for 8-10 min. Cool completely and coarsely chop. Set aside.
Cream cheese filling: In a food processor, process cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar and process just until smooth; add eggs one at a time, processing just until incorporated. Don't over process. Stir in flour. Set Aside.
Pumpkin Bread:
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Add sugar and melted butter and whisk until blended. Whisk or stir in pumpkin, water, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and toatsed nuts. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir JUST until the ingredients are combined. Do not over mix b/c it will make the bread tough.
Divide the batter in half. Take on half and divide it evenly between the two prepared pans. Divide the cream cheese filling in half and place each half of filling on top the two pans of batter, smoothing the tops. Top with the remaining half of batter. Bake breads for about 50-60 min, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Place pans on wire rack and let them for for about 10 min. before removing breads from pans. Can serve warm, cold,or at room temperature. Store leftovers in the refrigerator or else freeze for later use. 

Candied Pecans:

From my last experience with, I should've known NOT to use their recipes again...but I'm a nice person and I thought I'd give them a shot. Their candied pecan recipe was again a joke, so I had to tweak that too and hopefully it'll turn out ok.

1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
5 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 & 1/4 pecans

Bring salt, sugar, cinnamon, and milk to a boil. Let boil on medium heat for about 5 min. I put in a candy thermometer and it read about 220 degrees F. Let the mixture thicken and remove from heat. Add in vanilla and pecans. Pour on wax paper and let set, separating with a fork.