I realize I will get no sympathy from my east coast friends by complaining of the 70-degree weather we experienced here in Texas yesterday, so instead, let me simply extol the gorgeousness of today: sunny, clear, and, at present, a cool 49 degrees. I started the day with a brisk walk at 6 am with my friend Lindsey, and now, with Nick off to school, I'm cozy at my computer in my favorite fleece (the same fleece that had me sweltering bu 8 am only yesterday).
Adding to my sense of snug is the pumpkin hazelnut bread I've been nibbling. I made a double-batch pre-Christmas and froze one of the loaves. I forgot it's existence until this morning, when I spied it during my vain search for frozen chicken breasts (a misguided attempt to plan ahead for dinner).
Hooray for forgotten treasure! If you have a few cans of pumpkin lying around from the past months of holiday baking, give this a try. It's not too sweet (the only sweetener is maple syrup), but will still satisfy residual post-holiday cravings for something sweet. And it's very versatile. For starters, any other liquid syrup sweetener can be used in place of the maple (I know, maple is a but pricey). Think brown rice syrup, agave, or honey. Second, if you have white whole wheat flour on hand, you can use two cups of it in place of the 1 cup regular whole wheat flour + 1 cup all-purpose flour.The spice options are wide open: I like the simplicity of all-cinnamon in partnership with maple (1 tbsp of the former may sounds like a lot, but it is not too strong--the flavor is mellow and true), but you can spice it any which way. And finally, the hazelnuts may be skipped, replaced with other nuts, or subbed for dried fruit.
Whole Wheat Maple Pumpkin Bread with Hazelnuts
Makes 12 servings Preheat oven to 350°F 9x5-inch loaf pan, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray
1 cup whole-wheat flour 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 tbsp ground cinnamon 1-1/2 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp salt 1 cup pure maple syrup (or honey, agave, or mild molasses) 1 cup solid pack unsweetened pumpkin 1/2 cup vegetable oil 2 large eggs ( to make vegan, use the equivalent of 2 egg replacers) 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
In a large bowl, whisk the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.
Add the maple syrup, pumpkin, oil, eggs, and vanilla, stirring until just blended (do not overmix). Gently fold in the hazlenuts.
Spread into prepared loaf pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool on rack 5 minutes,
then unmold, and cool on wire rack; or transfer to serving platter, and serve warm.