I opened the window shade. The light was muted and gray. Looking out I noticed that everything was still wet from the day before, the leaves on the tree across the street were plastered on the cars below. Stuck in wipers, leaving imprints on windows, bumpers and doors. Reds and golds.
Leaving the house would require a scarf and water proof shoes. Perhaps a cautionary umbrella or two.
It's earlier now. Daylight savings time has ended. Our charge is to press on in less light. Autumn has asked us to trust it. To fall back into it's woodsy skeletal grip. We have no choice. We move forward weather beaten, cowering in the chilly corners of sofas with sweaters and hot cups of...
We bring great globes of orange into our homes. Spices perfume the air. We stock up on butter, sugar and flour.
Another Sunday...While the oven saturates itself with heat to a temperature of 350°F, I collect what I need from the cupboards for a pumpkin loaf.
I organize everything on the counter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
I whisk all of dry ingredients. The spices, so fragrant. My breathing becomes deeper and slower. Comforted by the scent. I'm doing what I love which results in complete relaxation.
In a small ramekin I combine:
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
I fill the stand mixer bowl with:
6 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
I beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
2 large eggs are cracked and waiting in another ramekin at room temperature. As the mixer beats I dump in one egg at a time.
1 cup of pumpkin puree is then added and beat until well combined.
Next I add in the dry ingredients, alternating with the wet. Everything is done in thirds until the batter is ready to receive the final ingredient, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts.
The loaf pan is greased. I just use a touch of extra virgin olive oil. The batter is then transferred to a 9" x 5" loaf pan.
Waiting is the hardest part. One hour in the oven and at least an hour more cooling, but it's worth it.
The loaf is perfectly golden, spiked with orange and brown with little lumps of walnut. The air is filled with warm pumpkin. If only Roberto loved pumpkin...For him I make a batch of brownies. He prefers them cake-like, as do I.
But we can't have two desserts in the house. I mean, of course we can. We do it quite a bit. I just can't let this loaf go to waste. I know that for all my pumpkin love, I will fall into the dark clutches of those chocolate brownies. It's inevitable. So, with my co-workers in mind, I package up 24 tiny portions in individual cupcake sleeves. Nice little bites for mid-afternoon Monday.
As I plate the remaining loaf for the cake dome, I indulge with a tiny bite here or there. It is right delicious, if I do say so myself. So moist and sweet with sugar and spice. I'm able to get my pumpkin fix without embarrassing myself with the trials and tribulations that go into making a crust for one pumpkin pie...But how I love thee, pumpkin pie.
This recipe comes right from the hefty pages of Joy of Cooking. The only ingredient that my cupboards could not manage, ginger. I believe the text calls for 1 teaspoon, but I have to say that it was not missed one bit. Also, I used pumpkin puree from a tin that's been hanging out in the pantry. I couldn't bring myself to massacre the pretty pumpkins on our window sill...just yet.