Sunday, September 28, 2014

PB Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf

Autumn is here and that means time for baking! There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked goods in autumn! This recipe incorporates some of my very favourite flavours!

I came across a version of this recipe last fall. I made it then and it turned out okay but the baking times were way off and I knew I had to play with the recipes ingredients a bit to make it work for me!

First off, when a recipe calls for pumpkin, I ALWAYS substitute with butternut squash - which is far more economical and versatile for baking, side dishes and main courses. Besides, once the usual spices are added, you REALLY can't tell the difference in the flavour between pumpkin and butternut squash in a baked good! I buy at least 3 or 4 good sized butternut squash every fall - when they are the most abundant and cheapest - then cook them up and freeze in 1/2 cup portions. This is the perfect size for baking or individual servings for meals. The pic below shows the steps for preparing and freezing the squash for the freezer. For more details, see the recipe for "Autumn Chippers" from last year which details the process. It also has links to other "pumpkin"/squash recipes.

Adding peanut butter to a "pumpkin" recipe may seem a bit odd, but in this case, it is added instead of traditional fats like oil, margarine or butter. A nice twist on flavour without overpowering. Rather it blends in well and the use of crunchy peanut butter also adds to the texture and flavour of the loaf.  

The original recipe also called for yogurt - which I never buy as it doesn't agree with my digestive system. I used fat free sour cream.

I also never buy pumpkin pie spice as various brands/blends can be quite different in strength, taste and freshness. It should also be noted that not all recipes require all the pumpkin spice mix ingredients so it is better to just add the spices individually. Instead, I googled "pumpkin spice mix" and created my own combo of spices for this recipe after reading several recipe blends. The spice quantities here may seem like a lot but when it is done, the flavour is purely complimentary and not at all overwhelming.

The other major issue I had with the original recipe was the baking times. The poster seemed to like it undercooked and took it out of the oven at about 30 minutes! ICK! I'm not a fan of undercooked loaves so when I baked the original, it took about an hour to fully cook in the middle but by then the edges had started to dry out. I was not impressed!

The baking time variations was a direct result of too much batter for one loaf pan but not enough to divide it into two. The solution? It seemed obvious to me that the quantity of batter needed to be adjusted. I added 50% more of most of the ingredients and a bit more than that of the squash, sour cream and of course more of the chocolate chips! (DUH!) I then divided the recipe into two pans! The results are much more evenly baked loaves that are still bursting with autumn flavour!

As usual, I've passed out samples to several people. Everyone thought it was delicious! 

PB Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Loaf
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon all spice
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup light or fat free sour cream
1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin OR butternut squash
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (I use Skippy)
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups chocolate chips, divided*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 9"x5" loaf pans with cooking spray.
Combine the spices, baking soda, salt and flours in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, combine the sour cream, pumpkin/squash and peanut butter. Stir in sugars and combine thoroughly Add the eggs and beat till smooth. Add in the spice/flour mixture and combine thoroughly - stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. The batter will be stiff. Stir about 1 1/4 cup chocolate chips into batter and mix thoroughly.  

Divide the batter evenly into prepared pans. Smooth out the tops with the back of a spoon or fork.  Sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips over the top and lightly press into batter with the spoon or fork.

* If for some reason, you don't want to add as many chocolate chips, you could also add some chopped peanuts - either to the loaf itself or to press onto the top.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until the toothpick test comes out  just shy of clean clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE!! If the edges seem to be drying out before the center is done, cover lightly with foil and continue baking. 

Cool on rack for about 10 minutes before removing from pan to finish cooling.

Slice and serve. These also freeze well. I cut the loaves in half and wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap then place in a freezer bag for later enjoyment!


No comments: