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Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf
What are the flavors of the seasons?
In Spring we enjoy all things fresh and green--tender spears of asparagus, sweet peas and crisp pea shoots, baby lettuces.
In summertime we think of leafy vegetable salads, freshly-picked tomatoes still warm from the sun, fried chicken, and iced tea. Fresh, sweet, crisp, cold.
With Autumn our thoughts turn to a bountiful harvest and our meals focus on vegetable-laden soups, stews, and chowders.
But in winter, our thoughts turn to the comfort of sweet squashes and pumpkins, the tang of citrus, and the warmth of ground spices--and those are the reason for today's recipe.
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree, (not pumpkin pie filling!)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
- 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
- 4 tsp. milk or cream
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Butter and then flour the bottom and sides of a 9x5-inch baking pan. Tap a corner of the pan on the counter to remove any excess flour.
- In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger. Whisk until well blended.
- Stir in the crystalized ginger.
- In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the pumpkin puree and orange zest. Whisk until blended. Pour these wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Add the melted butter. Using a spatula, gently fold all of the ingredients together until blended.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the hazelnuts on top.
- Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert the bread onto the wire rack and remove the pan. Turn the bread upright and let cool completely.
- In a small bowl stir together the confectioner's sugar and the milk or cream until smooth. If this glaze seems a bit thick, drizzle in a bit more milk or cream, 1 tsp. at a time, until you obtain a pourable consistency.
- Drizzle the glaze over the bread.
What makes this recipe work?
- Crystalized ginger provides a sweet warmth but not the harsh bite of ground ginger.
- Buttermilk is a tangy foil to the sweetness of pumpkin, but also insures a tender crumb.
- Orange zest brightens the flavors in baked goods just as citrus enlivens salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.
© 2014 Linda Lum