We’re having a very orange week around here. First there was Autumn Jam, yesterday we slurped up this very colorful Butternut Squash Soup and today it’s this darker hued, but still very much in the orange family, Crunch-Topped Pumpkin Loaf. Notice an autumnal theme, here?!! Now, that I’m committed to Fall, it’s like I have to cram all of what makes the season special into a teensy-weensy time span!
For someone who claims to “not be such a big fan of pumpkin” (me), this loaf (which might be a little misnamed since it definitely falls more into the cake than bread category, but we’ll get to that later) will definitely be in good company with a bunch of other pumpkin treats on the site that are some of my favorite things, like these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins and these Pumpkin Applesauce Muffins. Go figure!
Anyhoo, back to this loaf/cake. Like all good quick breads, it comes together quickly and easily and is moist, tender and lightly dense with a wonderful spicy, cinnamon flavor.
And now, I think it’s high time we address the elephant in the room, right? That totally addictive and delightful crunchy/crackly topping. It’s nothing more than sugar that caramelizes a bit as the loaf bakes and raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) but man-oh-man, that combo! Sends this simple loaf into the heavenly stratosphere!
Treat yourself to a slice of this with a cup of tea or coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up, or tuck a piece into someone’s lunch bag and brighten up their day. Or cut a hunk for yourself and indulge for breakfast (don’t worry, I won’t tell). No matter when you serve it, it’s just perfect. Whip up a loaf today and start enjoying the orange too!
Crunch-Topped Pumpkin Loaf
Makes one 9x5-inch loaf
1 2/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon, plus teaspoons cinnamon
9 ounces pumpkin purée (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons sugar for topping
1/3 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF and butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and soda and cinnamon into a bowl and set aside.
3. If you have a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, use that. If not, use the regular beaters and beat the pumpkin purée, oil, 1 1/3 cups sugar and salt on medium speed, until well mixed. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, between each addition. Add the flour mixture on low speed and beat only until just combined. Scrape down the bowl and beat on medium speed for another 5-10 seconds, just to insure that everything is smooth. The batter will be thick.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the sugar evenly across the surface and top with the pepitas, pressing down on them a bit so that they will stick to the finished product.
5. Bake the loaf for about 1 hour or until a tester comes out completely clean. If it’s a bit wet, keep baking—and rechecking at 10 minute intervals—you don’t want the crumb to turn out gummy. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for about 30 minutes. Then invert and invert again so it can finish cooling right side up. Slice and serve. Cake will keep well wrapped at room temperature for about 4 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson.