Fact: I love miniature things. My favorite types of minis are mini doors and mini bottles. (This probably explains my total obsession with “Alice & Wonderland” as a kid.) One of my favorite parts of studying abroad was visiting all the castles in the UK, which are filled with tiny doors, because people were shorter in the Dark Ages.
While I haven’t turned into a creepy dollhouse lady yet, I could totally see it happening in my later years. But for now, I can fulfill my need for tiny things by making mini loaves of bread.
The funny thing is, I found these mini loaf pans when I went to Michael’s hunting for a jumbo muffin pan for my fall muffin project. While I love miniatures, I also like a muffin to pack some heat. I was worried a jumbo muffin pan would be expensive, but I was hoping to rock out with a coupon.
The mini loaf pans solved all my problems. Instead of making huge muffins, I could just make mini loaves! Not only were the pans cheap — the orange pans were 70 cents, and the other colors were $1 — but they were seasonal and, well, fucking adorable! They will last me all through the fall season and can be used for so many cool baking projects (not to mention desk organization…all these flash drives need a home). And really, how perfect is this going to be for food gifting in a couple months?
Since I now had seasonal bake ware, I knew I needed to fill them with a seasonal delight. Pumpkin pie bread, anyone? I took Ellie Krieger’s healthy pumpkin pie muffin recipe and turned it into bread. Muffins, bread — who cares what shape it is?! It’s all carbs and it’s all good.
To do it yourself: combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole-grain pastry flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
In another large bowl, beat together 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, 3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses, 1/4 cup canola oil, and 1 egg until combined. Then add 1 more egg and beat again. The beat in 1 cup canned pumpkin and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Measure out 3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk. Beat the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk, until just combined. Pour into four mini loaf pans and top with 1/4 cup raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes,until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
This bread is seriously legit. Not only do all those spices make it smell like you’re waking up in the Pottery Barn winter catalog, but the texture is just right. It’s dense but still springy, and just all kinds of perfection. I love the pumpkin seeds on top; for some reason, they just seem sort of exotic and sexy, in all their smooth, green, naked glory.
Some notes on the ingredients: I’ve had this recipe for a year, but I put off making it because I was freaked out by whole wheat pastry flour, unsulphered molasses, and raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds. I don’t want you to feel the same level of anxiety I did, so here’s what you need to know. Pastry flour just has more gluten which helps hold together flakier baked goods (i.e. those made with a lot of butter); Bob’s Red Mill makes it, and I’ve seen it in enough recipes to feel OK investing in a whole bag of it. If you can’t find it, you can substitute 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour. I actually bought mine in the bulk section of Central Market. That is also where I found the raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds. If you can’t find those at the store, why not hack into your pumpkin and get some the old-fashioned way? And unsulphered molasses is seriously not a big deal. Target had one kind of molasses — it was unsulphered and $2.
And PS Michael’s is having a big sale tonight from 4 to 8 PM and I have a coupon for 15 percent off everything, including sale items. That means you can get these pans for just 60 or 85 cents. E-mail me if you want me to send you the coupon for the pans or any other fun crafty goodies! I love Michael’s. Like, sorry Hob Lob, but while you’re closed so your employees can “worship” tonight, we’ll be getting it on at Michael’s.
OK I think I’ve now taken care of all your excuses for not making this bread ASAP!
The mini loaves keep for three days in the fridge or three months in the freezer, which is where my extras are currently chilling. I like baking this way; it’s like I’m a pioneer preparing for the coming frost. It also means I won’t have to do another round of dishes when I want to eat it again.
You would be more than OK making this as a gift and giving it to people for a fall “Thanks for letting me crash on your couch!” gift or perhaps a “Thanks for bringing my lonely-ass in for Thanksgiving!” gift or “I know you said I didn’t need to bring anything to the pumpkin carving party, but I did anyway!” gift. And when you let them keep the adorable pan — because who doesn’t like miniatures and free bakeware?! — you will be seen as the greatest guest to ever cross their threshold and will be invited back for years to come.
Or you can refuse to share it! I wouldn’t judge you. Last week, I had the first mini loaf out as I was making breakfast/lunch for Eric and me before work. There were two slices left of the bread, and then the two heels. I put one slice of bread in his lunch and was planning to have the other for breakfast. But then I turned around and Eric was eating it! I was so pissed that he left me with the heels, so I took the slice out of his lunch so I could eat it for breakfast and gave him the two heels for lunch. I love my boyfriend, but homeboy was trippin’ that morning.
All right, I’m off to read the new Project Tasteless entries ! Don’t forget, you have until midnight tonight to get your Naked Chef entry in. Bonus points if you incorporate strategically placed mini loaf pans.