21 August 2012

Creature Comforts: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread

pumpkin cream cheese bread
Sometimes the body craves the food it was raised on. In the autumn and at Christmas, that meant pumpkin bread with a luscious ribbon of cream cheese running through the center. It's not autumn or Christmas yet, but I had a butternut squash sitting on the counter; all I could see when I looked at it was a loaf of that bread. 

Normally we made it with canned pumpkin puree, but for the past six-ish years, I've been devoted to baking almost completely from scratch. No cans of puree for my bread, no pre-made crusts for my pies. So, that butternut squash met its maker and went to a better place... into this beautiful loaf. The taste is a little milder than if I'd used a pie pumpkin, but I wouldn't have noticed if someone else had made it.

And, of course, I subbed white whole wheat flour for half of the AP flour and traded sucanat for some of the white sugar. With those changes, and me telling myself there's a vegetable in it, I can get through my three-slice breakfast without an inch of guilt.

I made a second loaf for a picnic today, slightly tinging the cream cheese with lemon extract; it was tasty, but I really prefer this one as is. I know, it goes against my intrinsic and perpetual need for recipe modification. Maybe someday I'll find the magic addition that makes the copy better than the master, but until then, classic wins.

It's just so. effing. good.

pumpkin cream cheese bread
pumpkin cream cheese bread
pumpkin cream cheese bread
pumpkin cream cheese bread
recipe adapted from Joy of Baking
yields 2 loaves

cream cheese swirl
  • 8 ounce package (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
pumpkin bread
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sucanat (or turbanado or brown sugar)
  • 3/4 cup fine granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (learn how to make it from a fresh pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
cream cheese swirl 
  1. In your food processor, process the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and process just until smooth and creamy. 
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, processing just until incorporated. Do not over-process. Stir in the flour. 
pumpkin bread 
  1. In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. 
  2. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs until lightly beaten. Add the sugar/sucanat and melted butter, and whisk until blended. 
  3. Whisk or stir in the pumpkin, water, and vanilla extract. 
  4. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir just until the ingredients are combined. (A few streaks of flour is fine.) Do not over mix as it will make the bread tough. 
  5. Divide the batter in half. Take one half and divide it evenly between the two prepared pans. Divide the cream cheese filling in half and place each half of filling on top the two pans of batter, smoothing the tops. Top with the remaining half of batter (use two spoons to place small dollops of batter on top of the filling). Bake the breads for about 55 - 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. 
  6. Place pans on a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing breads from pans, cooling completely, and refrigerating. This bread is best served cold; it sets, the flavors meld, and the consistency densifies in a most perfect way.