As I shared in my last post, nothing was going well in my kitchen yesterday. First, I tried an alternative pumpkin bread recipe that was grain free and also contained flax seed and chia gel (in addition to eggs). Then I made some cupcakes that I’d made previously that were okay, but not great. I thought I could adjust the recipe to improve the texture and make the cupcakes dairy free and sugar free. Carol (Simply … Gluten Free) shared an insightful comment in response to yesterday’s post. She said “I believe we learn more from our failures than our triumphs. Simple statement, but a powerful truth—both for time spent in the kitchen and for life in general, don’t you think?
I hadn’t felt particularly great about either of the recipes, but I’d forged ahead anyway. For the cupcakes, I was trying to seize upon the fun of gluten-free cupcakes for Halloween. I have Halloween cupcake liners that have been sitting unused in my pantry for years, just waiting for the perfect recipe. With a design of bats and pumpkins, they could bring such joy to those eating some delicious cupcakes.
Cupcakes have been the “in” fun thing for a while now and the authors from two of my favorite blogs have cupcake cookbooks coming out in Spring 2011. Elana’s new book is Gluten-Free Cupcakes: 50 Irresistible Recipes Made with Almond and Coconut Flour (which can pre-ordered here). You can read more about Pete and Kelli’s book at their blog, No Gluten, No Problem, here. One must remember that Elena and Pete and Kelli all must bake cupcakes non-stop for months prior to the publication of these cookbooks—with failures as well as successes. I only gave that reality any thought after my failure. Honestly, I was just kind of rolling the die on the cupcake recipe I wanted to adapt. I didn’t have a strong feeling that my ideas would work in this case. I added some gluten-free flour to balance out the fact that these cupcakes had been way too moist in the original version. I also made a dairy-free, sugar free version of condensed milk for the first time to use in this recipe. Or, maybe I should say “tried” to make a new version of condensed milk. I kept waiting for the combination of ingredients to thicken appropriately, tasting as I went. Neither the thickness nor sweetness necessary for winning cupcakes were there, but I kept going anyway. The baked results looked fairly good and the toothpick test worked, but one bite indicated the cupcakes were not a success. The results were more like mousse cakes and not good mousse either.
For the other recipe—the alternative bread—the formulation had seemed doubtful to me, but the reviews had been good, so I forged ahead. Again, I didn’t listen to my inner voice. I really wanted to share a grain-free bread that I’d adapted to be even better for Linda’s Create A Quick Bread challenge. I hadn’t wanted to take the easy way out and use a recipe that I’d been using for years with success. In hindsight, this was silly. I should have just shared what I wanted to from the beginning … my pumpkin bread (perhaps adapting it a bit to meet the “create” criteria). I say “my” pumpkin bread, but this is a recipe I got from a dear friend back when I was in college. (I know she had gotten it from someone else, so I don’t know the original source.) I just converted the recipe to be gluten free shortly after I went gluten free in 2003. The conversion was quite easy; I just replaced the all-purpose flour with my gluten-free all-purpose flour blend and added some xanthan gum. This bread remains a family favorite. Son will be home again this weekend and I know he’ll gladly grab a loaf on the way out the door!
I was so happy myself to see four loaves of my pumpkin bread cooling on the top of the stove that I snapped a few pictures. In disarray or all lined up, the sight of these loaves of pumpkin bread made me happy! For breakfast this morning, I enjoyed a slice topped with some of Desi’s (The Palate Peacemaker) Spiced Maple Pecan Butter. That combination was a really nice way to start the day … flavorful, light pumpkin bread with sweet tender crumbs and just a little touch of pumpkin pie, maple, and pecan flavor. This breakfast certainly made me quickly forget the baking foibles of yesterday!
- ⅔ cup shortening (I use butter; either non-dairy or dairy)
- 2⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin or 2 cups pumpkin puree
- ⅔ cup water
- 3⅓ cup all-purpose gluten-free flour mix*
- 1½ tsp xanthan gum (optional, but read notes)
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 3¾ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice, ¼ tsp allspice)
- ⅔ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional)
- ⅔ cup raisins (optional)
- Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 x 5 x 3 (or four smaller) loaf pans.
- In large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until fluffy. Stir in eggs, pumpkin, and water. Blend in flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and spice(s). Stir in nuts and raisins (if used).
- Pour into loaf pans. If using large loaf pans, bake about 70 minutes or until done. If using smaller loaf pans (as shown), bake 45 to 50 minutes.
- Test for doneness using toothpick. Let sit in pan for about 10 minutes before removing to cool.
I’m pretty sure that coconut/palm sugar would work well as a substitution for the granulated sugar. Because the flavor of coconut/palm sugar is more intense, a slightly lesser amount might be acceptable. Today I was out of xanthan gum. The bread still came out great without it when making these smaller loaves. It was perhaps a tad crumbly, but not enough to be a problem. Just be sure to let the loaves cool adequately before removing.
Note that I'm not sure if a larger loaf would be more crumbly without xanthan gum. Smaller loaf pans allow me to make four loaves, which is great for gift giving during the holidays, sharing a loaf at the office, sharing a loaf with my parents, etc. Sometimes, I’ll make one large loaf and two smaller ones. We keep the large loaf and I give away the small loaves or freeze them to give later.
Last, if you don't have time to make loaves, use the recipe to make cupcakes/muffins instead. Baking time should be about 20 to 25 minutes for conventional sized muffins. Test for doneness with a toothpick.
Tomorrow’s recipe is cooking in the slow cooker right now. I feel good about it though! Check out other Pumpkin Pie Plus … entries:
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