October 24, 2013

Hipster Kitchen: Squash Snobbery

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October is drawing to a close, and pumpkin season is upon us! Or at least, pumpkin spice season is. There’s an article that’s been making the rounds on the web about how Starbucks’ most hallowed seasonal beverage, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (or #PSL if you’re into the whole brevity thing), contains exactly no pumpkin. And it’s not a fluke. Plenty of purportedly pumpkiny treats are really just flavored with a mishmash of spices — cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice — plus plenty of artificial sweeteners. Devotees of the flavor are flocking to its defense, claiming that they didn’t want to eat some nasty-ass gourd anyway. But, seriously? Pumpkin is pretty great. It has a complex, earthy sweetness that doesn’t need to be enhanced by high fructose corn syrup and a jumble of other flavors. Plus, it’s high in vitamin A and great for digestive health.

Since the hipster is authentic above all things, it only follows that all non-pumpkin fall treats ought to be eschewed in favor of the real deal. I’ve included for you below my favorite recipe — classic pumpkin bread. Deep, velvety orange from an abundance of pure pumpkin puree and smelling ever-so-faintly of cinnamon, this bread is the quintessence of fall. It’s what every Pumpkin Spice Latté wants to be — authentic, delicious and uniquely seasonal — but it’s the genuine article. Try and get a batch in the oven before the first snow.


Adapted from an old family recipe

3½ cups flour

2 ½ cups sugar (I prefer to use brown for its richer flavor, but white works perfectly fine)

1½ tsp salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

4 eggs

1 16oz can pumpkin puree (or, if you’re feeling extra ambitious, 2 cups fresh cooked pumpkin puree)

¾ cup canola oil

½ cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and spices. Make a hollow in the center of the dry ingredient. Crack eggs into this hollow, then use a fork to beat them lightly, just until the yolks break. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and then fold into dry ingredients, gently, until batter attains a smooth consistency. Don’t over mix.

Butter two standard-sized loaf pans and divide batter between the two. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool to room temperature before eating.

Alternatively, make pumpkin muffins! Line muffin tins with papers and divide batter evenly into these; you should get between 18 and 24. Muffins only need to bake 25-30 minutes. Again, allow to cool before eating.