Midweek Baking, Part Two

One of my all-time favorite things about autumn is the pumpkin. The rich orange color, the earthy smell of the flesh, crunchy pumpkin seeds, jack-o-lanterns at halloween; although I had never actually seen or eaten a pumpkin until I was at least 10 years old or so when we moved to the States. Before that happened, we had a cat called pumpkin - she was all black with huge bright orange eyes (and we adopted her from the rspca around halloween). I'm starting to see some small pumpkins and squashes at our local Saturday farmer's market, as I'm sure you are too. And while there are a million ways to enjoy them (roasted, soup, pie, etc.) it is the puree I'm most excited about for this next recipe. Infortunately, pureed pumpkin is hard to come by if you don't live in America. Luckily for us Londoners, there are several branches of whole foods and a couple of websites that sell canned pumpkin. Let's face it - I'm the same - we can't be bothered to actually cook up a whole pumpkin and puree it ourselves. That takes lots of time and energy! Usually, they'll stock canned pumpkin in London around now in preparation for Thanksgiving. Ao imagine my delight when I found a jar (?) of the good stuff recently!

This only meant one thing: pumpkin bread. To be honest, I've never made it before, let alone a vegan version. But this pumpkin bread recipe is not only fabulously tasty, it has also got some fantastic health benefits. This blog is nothing if not here to help you justify dessert!

  • First, the pumpkin: it is packed to the brim with vitamin A (beta carotene) which has a ton of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Not only will a diet rich in beta carotene help to prevent cancer, it will also help to reduce the severity of asthma and arthritis. Bonus! Pumpkins also contain healthy doses of potassium, vitamin c, and fiber. Fantastic!
  • Instead of sugar, I used a product called sweet freedom, a syrup made from apples, grapes, and carob, as well as some maple syrup. The original recipe called for 2 1/3 cups of sugar!!!! No thanks :)
  • Instead of plain flour, I used a gluten-free flour mix. Instead of whole wheat flour, I used wholemeal spelt flour.
  • Instead of vegetable oil, I used canola (AKA rapeseed, but canola sounds better to me) oil.
  • When choosing a pumpkin puree, make sure you pick one that isn't called "pumpkin pie filling" (which contains spices and sugars) - you want the most natural (preferably organic) version that you can find.

These loaves make a wonderful dessert when heated up and served with some vanilla ice cream (non-dairy of course!) or as a mid-day snack. The recipe below makes two loaves, so we gave one away to friends of ours. But feel free to halve the recipe for one bread.

Pumpkin Walnut Bread

Based on a recipe by Joy the Baker; makes two loaves

The particulars:

  • 1 1/2 cups plain gluten-free flour
  • 2 cups wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetener syrup (such as sweet freedom, honey, maple syrup, or a combination)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (1 15-ounce can)
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease two loaf pans (I used coconut oil).
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. In another medium-large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup, sweetener syrup, and water.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to thoroughly combine. Fold in most of the chopped walnuts, but leave a few for garnish.
  4. Pour the dough into the loaf pans and sprinkle a few walnut pieces on the top before placing in the oven. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes in the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.