November 07, 2013

Very Autumnal Pumpkin, Honey & Basil Bread

Autumnal glitter

I don't come here very often lately, do I? And once I come, I feel like I have a fair responsibility to explain why all of a sudden I became such an infrequent guest at My Kitchen Affair. Why this once so treasured and caressed place got so covered up in thick murky dust. Why from lively and frisky it became shabby and literally abandoned? Cause how else could you name the fact that there is only a single post being produced during the month? Monthly issue, I would say... very poor issue...

...whereas my real life is so generously dusted with flour, rubbed in butter, sprinkled with sugar, filled with cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce that I can barely see from the other side of this this sweet puffy batter-y mess. My freezer is seriously suffering from choux and shortcrust pastry overload, my lunchbox for the last couple of weeks has been consisting only of quiche, while my hands are more notably than ever marked with variously-shaped cuts, wounds and those (damn) never-healing blisters.

Well, that's how life it is right now and that's how I'm living it. More with happiness than with dissatisfaction, even though it means a few additional cuts on my already packed wound and scar map and just an occasional visit at My Kitchen Affair

Autumn leaves

Even though it means the autumn slipping through my fingers and leaving just a few leftover leaves mournfully laying on the ground. Eliminating the wind that each day gets more rigorous than you wished it would be, the rain that seems to enjoy seeing you all soaked up with every single one of those hundreds unexpected showers descending from above, the darkness that little by little is mischievously stealing more of the day than any respectful creature should, despite all that, it can still be a lovely season. Full of glitter, remarkable glam and such a strikingly beautiful colors.

Autumn leaves

Various shades of red, green, yellow, purple and brown. It's a shame not to notice them. Or to taste them, cause the colors of seasonal fruits and vegetables are just as glamorous as the surrounding their are being enclosed by.

Let's take the squash, for example. From light to dark bottle-green, from ivory to pale yellow, from light brown to strikingly orange. Such a marvelous color palette and such an abundance of flavors. One would be in a a terrible loss not having a chance to enjoy this autumnal garden queen before its season is over.

Pumpkin galore

If you opened the autumnal issue of Clouds magazine, you would find the whole subsection dedicated to pumpkin. Pumpkin granola, pumpkin coffee, sourdough pumpkin and raisin bread, pumpkin doughnuts, peanut butter, red bell-pepper and pumpkin soup, and even the rabbit laid on a creamy pumpkin puree - the choice is well beyond reasonable. However, this season, one of my most beloved favorites are sweet Pumpkin Muffins with Garam Masala (page 181). It might sound as a bit unusual flavor combination, but, I am telling you, it's just brilliant. Once the aromatic oriental spice blend is nicely absorbed by the denseness of the pumpkin, you are guaranteed with a lovely unique experience of an unforgettable muffin.

Pumpkin muffins with Garam Masala

In the meantime, the second in line on my favorites' list is this Pumpkin, Honey & Basil Bread - beautifully moist and delicately packed with flavors.

I love baking with honey, especially sweet breads or muffins since they usually do not require granulated sugar to be creamed with butter to hold the air. Cause in the end, despite its marvelous delicate flavor of pollen and wild flowers, honey also gives a beautiful tenderness, nice and crispy golden crust and sustained moisture. If you wish, you can substitute it with maple syrup (for sharper maple flavor and tone) or agave. Staying faithful to sugar (light muscovado or demerara would be the best option in here) you might need to add 25 ml more buttermilk or yogurt so that the bread is still moist and tender.

This time I used all-purpose flour, but any soft flour would work as well.  Whereas, for a bit healthier version, you might substitute half of the all-purpose flour with whole-wheat flour at the same time slightly increasing the amount of the liquids (by 2-3 tsp) and adding the additional 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

Pumpkin, Honey & Basil Bread

Pumpkin, Honey & Basil Bread

300 g (10.6 oz)  all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
240 ml (1 cup) pumpkin puree
60 ml (1/4 cup) flavorless vegetable oil
100 g (3.5 oz) honey
120 ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk or plain natural yogurt
2 Tbsp fresh finely chopped basil
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 165 C (325 F) temperature. Line regular size (23x13 cm / 9x5 inch) loaf pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, honey, and buttermilk. Add finely chopped basil.
Pour the wet  mixture into the dry mixture and stir just until combined, being careful not to over-mix. Transfer into the prepared loaf pan and, with the help of the spatula, spread evenly.
In a small bowl, mix together the light brown sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the batter.
Place the tin in the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the middle of the sweet bread, comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.


  1. Whenever you write it's always a pleasure to read! Love the idea of pumpkin bread!