The last you heard from me, I was in China. I have a lot more to share about that trip, among other things that it has actually come and gone and that we’re already headed towards the horizon that has always been stretching along behind it. As I type this, I’m watching the first real snow flurries of winter swirl through the trees and over the leaves in the yard. Winter is back and I can hardly believe it. The older I get, the more I seem to become one of those “one year ago” types of people, that can’t help but reflect on how much can happen in 365 days. I’m sticking to the story that this isn’t a personality flaw, so long as I continue to smile, mouth agape, at these recollections of whatever ride I was present for during that time, instead of feeling that all of those days got away from me.
I keep pretty diligent notes of what I’m up to, day in and day out, in a little journal that I carry with me everywhere I go. Most of the time, when the notebook gets full, I stick it in a box with all the others and pack it up for posterity. Some of them, I’m sure, have been long discarded. But I was inspired to pull out the notes from last November and peek at them today. One year ago, we were San Francisco transplants taking a time-out in Portland. We knew there was a new adventure on our horizon, but we didn’t know where it would play out, or what our roles would be in it. I was plotting how to break out and be more than just a “hungry cyclist,” . I wanted to start writing, and creating – through words, recipes, and pictures. I was struggling to keep a full time racing schedule, and the fitness that goes along with it. I missed having a kitchen of my own. I missed riding my bicycle. All in all I felt very lost, confused, and lonely. Deeply, I knew we couldn’t make a wrong decision, I just couldn’t anticipate what the right one would feel like.
In these past 365 days, we chose to move back to Boulder, we found a great little house, and somehow hit the fast forward button on the year. Not only has it been wonderful to be back here in our hometown, but I’ve felt infinitely lucky to fill my days collaborating with this crew. And this one. And this one. This happened too. And this! We went here, and here, and have a few more little adventures and excitements to come before the calendar ticks over to 2015. The snow falling outside today seems to be a sign that at last the pace of life will slow a smidge, and I’ll be able to keep better tabs on the story of what’s fueling our particular adventure in this space.
As I folded up the notebooks and put them away, I had a sense of accomplishment, a sense of satisfaction, a curious happiness that is watching what happens next. I realized that even though last November was just a year ago, the emotion I felt and the way our life looked back then is one million days away. In fact, the only similarities between last November and this one is that I’m still dedicated to telling this story – in every way I can – and I’m still (and always) making some sort of pumpkin bread.
Another pumpkin bread?! Yes. You’ll find other pumpkin breads and pumpkin recipes on this site, (this is also a favorite around here) and I’m sure you have a few of your own as well, but this one is worth adding to your repertoire. Of all the recipes I’ve worked with, this Pumpkin Bread w/Cinnamon-y Pecans one is the simplest, most straightforward, and intrinsically delicious. It’s decadent without being dessert like, not cloying or too sweet, and you probably have all the required ingredients in your pantry already. You don’t even need a stand mixer to pull it together. We’ve been eating it with coconut butter for breakfast, with sautéed kale and eggs for lunch, and any time we need a little snack. It was the perfect thing to bake so that we could ring in the new season, and everything beyond it, and I hope it will be that for you all too.
So, about this recipe: I really enjoy baking my own pumpkin for purée, instead of buying the canned variety. I typically pick up a couple of sugar pie pumpkins at the market, cut open the tops, scoop them out and pop them in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or while I piddle about the house or run quick errands. When they’re very easily pierced with a fork, I pull them from the oven and let them cool a bit, then scoop the purée out and store it. Typically one pumpkin will yield a few loaves of this bread, or a loaf of bread, some pumpkin soup, and plenty of spoonfuls for me to toss into oatmeal, eggs, pasta sauce, what have you. It’s really nice to have on hand.
If you choose to roast your own pumpkin, that will be the most time-intensive process of preparing this bread. Sift the dry, combine the wet, then fold the wet into the dry – et voilà! Oh! You could use any nuts you like here in lieu of the pecans…I just really like pecans! And, if you’re a master “batter swirler” you may choose to really create a swirl pattern of the cinnamon pecans in the loaf. We don’t mind that much if the pecans swirl or not, so long as they leave little surprise bites in each slice.
Enjoy this one. And thanks for visiting, and reading, and following, and supporting me along in this space, friends. 🙂 – xo L
- 1 cup toasted pecans
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups spelt or whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, in liquid state
- 2 Tbsp soy or almond milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/3 cup raw sugar, for sprinking
- Recipe adapted from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin
- Makes one 9" loaf.
- Preheat the oven to 350' and line a 9" loaf pan with parchment for a cleaner removal.
- In a small bowl, mix together the pecans, maple, sugar and cinnamon and set aside. This will be your cinnamon swirl mixture.
- Into a medium sized mixing bowl, sift the spelt flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, olive oil, almond milk, vanilla, egg and maple syrup until completely combined.
- Fold the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture in three additions, folding each addition until just combined. Transfer half of the batter to the loaf pan, spread evenly over the bottom. Layer the cinnamon pecan mixture evenly over batter and top with the remaining batter. To create a "swirl," run a knife in a zig zag through the batter.
- Sprinkle the raw sugar on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes before removing the loaf.
- Slice and serve warm. This bread is delicious with a generous spread of coconut butter!