Weather: 27 degrees, trees heavy with snow
What I’m listening to: the familiar sound of a snow-blower
Pumpkin Bread, all dressed up for a special occasion… a special occasion just like Thanksgiving, which is only a week away. There are a few things that set this loaf apart from all the other pumpkin bread recipes I’ve tried (and I’ve tried many) – the sunflower seeds on top to make it look gorgeous, while at the same time offering some saltiness and crunch that you just don’t see very often in other recipes.
The next thing that makes this loaf a standout is perhaps the most surprising thing – cornmeal. I have never before encountered a pumpkin bread recipe with cornmeal. It does something amazing to the texture and makes it slice beautifully (I’ve tried many a pumpkin bread that just turn to either crumbles or mush when you slice them). Slice-ability is key when you’re serving for a special occasion. You want it to look as pretty in pieces as it does as a whole. And, cornmeal is an undeniable Thanksgiving ingredient going back to the very first pilgrim menu, another reason you should use it.
You’ll be inspiring thankfulness right and left among your family and friends with this recipe, trust me. I can imagine it being used in a before-dinner appetizer and goodies spread, you know the food you put out to keep everyone from coming into the kitchen and asking when the turkey will be ready? Make it a day or two ahead (the Orange Cream Cheese spread can also be made ahead and stays nice and spreadable because there’s a little sour cream in it) and you’re in business. Or, if you’ve been invited somewhere for Thanksgiving, consider taking this loaf as a gift to thank the hosts.
Pumpkin Bread with Orange Cream Cheese
Adapted from Williams Sonoma
Yields: 8 full-slice servings
- 1-1/4c flour
- 1/3c cornmeal
- 1t baking soda
- 1/2t salt
- 2t cinnamon
- 1t ground ginger
- 1/4t cloves
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4c sugar
- 1/2c brown sugar
- 1/3c canola oil
- 1/3c plain yogurt
- 1c pumpkin puree
- 1/3c sunflower seeds
- For the Orange Cream Cheese:
- 4oz cream cheese, softened
- 2T sour cream
- 3T sugar
- 2t freshly grated orange zest
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a standard 9x5 loaf pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the eggs, sugars, oil, yogurt, and pumpkin until smooth. Add the dry ingredients in two batches, mixing until just blended after each addition. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds to cover.
Bake 50-60 minutes or until completely set and cooked through. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, before turning out of the pan to cool completely.
To make the Orange Cream Cheese: mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and orange zest until smooth and well-combined (I used the stand-mixer again). Transfer to a small serving bowl (or refrigerate, covered, if making ahead).
To serve: Slice the bread and serve with Orange Cream Cheese.