High Country Baking column: Change up your typical pumpkin bread
Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Meet my favorite fall quick bread: Moist, dense and tender, it’s flavored by sweet chocolate chips and tart crystallized ginger that harmonize beautifully with the spicy pumpkin batter and orange glaze. We nibble it any time of day, and I’ve even warmed thick slices and topped them with hard sauce for a casual dessert.
Be sure to use new, soft crystallized ginger and, to easily mince the sticky stuff, use a knife or kitchen scissors greased with a vegetable oil-flour spray. For a stronger ginger taste, use the large amount suggested in the recipe.
Pumpkin Bread with Ginger and Chocolate Chips
Adjusted for altitudes of 8,000 feet and higher. Make in an 81/2-by-41/2-inch pan or three 3-by-5-inch metal loaf pans.
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch baking soda
Slightly less than 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
3 to 4 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon molasses
7 1/2 ounces pumpkin puree
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2-4 tablespoons cream or whole milk
Several drops orange oil or 2 teaspoons orange zest, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line the baking pan(s) with aluminum foil, extending it several inches on two opposing sides to use as handles when removing the bread. Generously grease the pan, foil and all, with a vegetable oil-flour spray.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, all the spices and the minced ginger in a bowl and whisk to blend well. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, canola oil and brown sugar until smooth and thoroughly combined. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until mealy. Add the egg, and beat until blended. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, lifting any dry ingredients into the mixture. Add the egg yolk and beat again until uniformly moistened. Beat in the molasses and pumpkin and, finally, stir in the chocolate chips by hand until evenly distributed in the batter.
Spoon the batter into the pan(s), until they are two-thirds full. Level and smooth the top. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, the top is set and slightly springy when touched, and the bread starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. This usually takes about 30 minutes for small loaves and from 45 to 55 minutes for large loaves, though use visual clues rather than oven time to determine doneness.
Move to a cooling rack, cool 20 minutes and then use foil handles to remove bread from the pan(s). Let cool completely on rack before glazing.
Combine confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons cream or milk in a small bowl and whisk to blend. Add more cream or milk as needed to get a consistency that makes a ribbon when drizzled from a spoon. Add orange oil or zest. Drizzle decoratively over the top(s) of bread(s). When the glaze is set, store the bread, wrapped airtight, for three days in the refrigerator. We like it best when the flavors have had a few hours or even overnight to develop.
Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Bookworm of Edwards), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.