Monday, October 8, 2012

Marbled Pumpkin Bread

A happy accident is a wonderful thing. Especially where food is concerned. And especially when it can be recreated. ;)

I set out to try the Really Good Pumpkin Bread recipe in the most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated, omitting nuts and some kind of streusel in favor of chocolate chips (Are we surprised? I think not.), but ended up with a marbled loaf instead.

How, you ask?

So, okay, the folks at Cook's Illustrated instructed that you cook the pumpkin puree prior to adding it to the batter in order to eliminate the "canned" taste from the canned puree, then add cream cheese to counter the moisture lost in the cooking process. And I thought to myself that the recipe needed brown butter. It just did. So I swapped half of the vegetable oil called for in favor of butter, plunked it in the pan and browned it before proceeding with the recipe as written.

Then came the end when I was adding in my chocolate chips. Not thinking, I dumped them into the batter, still warm from the cooking process, and noted with a little horror the streaks of melting chocolate running through the mixture. In an effort to stem the tide of melting chocolate chips, I stopped stirring and divvied the batter into the pans. As I shoved it all in the oven I said a little prayer, because I had intended to give these as thank-yous to the wonderful friends who helped us move last weekend, so I really needed them to turn out well.

The result was perfect pumpkin bread with this gorgeous swirl of chocolate running wildly through it. The browned butter may be guilding the lily just a bit, but I love the caramel notes it lends. And despite all the indulgent ingredients, it strikes a delightful sweet spot of just-enough richness, thanks in large part to the chocolate swirl.

Happy accident indeed!

Next to try from the September/October issue of Cook's Illustrated: French Apple Cake. ...No, 10-Minute Steel-Cut Oats. ...No, the Mediterranean Braised Green Beans... Gah! Do yourself a favor and buy this issue, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Better yet, go ahead and subscribe! I read every issue cover-to-cover -- and I can't say that for most magazines. Every recipe comes out perfectly, evidently even when you do your best to mess it up!

Marbled Pumpkin Bread
adapted from Cook's Illustrated

2 c. (10 oz.) flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. butter
1, 15 oz. can pumpkin puree (or 15 oz. homemade puree, if you're that kind of person)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
4 oz. cream cheese*
1 c. (7 oz.) granulated sugar
1 c. (7 oz.) lightly packed brown sugar
4 eggs, at room temp.
1/4 c. buttermilk, at room temp.
1.4 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

*Note: In my first batch of this bread, I used low fat cream cheese (Neufchatel cheese). I could not get it to melt down and incorporate smoothly. In the finished product, the little lumps of cream cheese were barely noticable, but they still bugged me. The second time around, I used full-fat cream cheese, and that worked splendidly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Continue to cook and stir until butter begins to brown. Once it is golden, drop heat to low and whisk in pumpkin puree and spices.
Raise heat to medium, and cook the pumpkin mixture for about 7 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and whisk in cream cheese until no clumps or streaks remain.
Add in sugars, and let sit for 5 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, mix together eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. When pumpkin mixture has cooled a bit, carefully and gradually stream about 1 c. of the warm mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, to temper it, then add that to the remaining pumpkin mixture.
Pour this into the prepared dry ingredients, and stir until just combined -- there may be lumps here and there.
While still warm, stir in chocolate chips. Fold gently until streaks of chocolate begin to be visible, then stop, and divide between two greased loaf pans using a 1 c. measure. Do your best not to mix it up too much at this point, or your bread won't be marbled.
Place in a 350ยบ oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, rotating after about 25 minutes. When done, a toothpick inserted in the center should come out cleanly.
Let cool completely before removing from pan to devour.


  1. I too want to increase my readership AND comments. Saw yours on Dine and Dish and thought I'd pop over and take a look at your blog and leave you a comment. This pumpkin bread looks great! :D


Thanks for your comment. Let's keep things friendly!