Pumpkin with sea buckthorn on top

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I don’t go crazy during pumpkin patch season. I love my latte the way God intended: without the sweet and cloying pumpkin spice syrup, and while I enjoy a well-crafted creamy pumpkin soup with frizzy sage, I would love it just as well. well take a bowl of borshch. And this jaded attitude towards the most famous member of the gourd family suits well in Russia, where the pumpkin has yet to inspire the seasonal frenzy, at least among those living outside the metropolitan Starbucks belts.

I don’t know what explains this lackluster attitude towards pumpkins. Pumpkins are certainly an important crop in Russia, and Russians have survived for centuries on cellars filled with hardy root vegetables like pumpkins. And Russians find them decorative: The country’s many harvest festivals are traditionally adorned with pumpkins – this newspaper reported on a massive pumpkin display in Moscow last week. Pumpkins take center stage every fall in Russian food markets, but to the despair of American expatriate parents, they are usually cut into quarters, making them completely useless for the primary use of a fine pumpkin. October. Fast forward to mid-November, and the usual deluge of messages will clog my frantic newbie in Moscow inbox wondering where they can find boxes of ready-made pumpkin pie mix. I keep a PDF on my desk with simple instructions on how to make pumpkin puree from scratch, which I send as meager compensation for the bad news that, alas, the pumpkin pie mix. is almost impossible to find in Moscow.

Despite the ubiquity of pumpkins in autumn, open any Russian cookbook to the “P” section of the index (or in Russian the “T” section: the word “тыква” does three things to define “pumpkin” “,” Squash “and” gourd “) and you will indeed find very thin pickings. Pumpkin kasha is by far the most popular dish in Russia, followed by far by pumpkin pancakes. Pumpkin soup grows in importance during Great Lent, but it falls in early spring rather than mid-autumn.

The former Soviet republics are more creative in their use of pumpkins: the Balts marinate their pumpkins – often inside the pumpkin itself, which is picturesque and delicious, and they also use pumpkin flesh to make pumpkins. Pretty delicious savory buns. Central Asians turn pumpkin into plov (try saying this ten times faster), and Caucasians combine pumpkin, squash and other squash with game and lamb in the classic sweet and sour pairings that characterize this cuisine. mountainous region.

Maybe the reason the pumpkin hasn’t achieved iconic status in Russia is because Russians tend not to use it in sweet baked goods, which, even I admit, is where the pumpkin has the potential to really shine, under the right conditions. Pumpkin baked goods such as pumpkin scones, bread, cakes, muffins and cheesecakes are so appealing and addicting not because of the lightly flavored pumpkin flesh, but for the combination the ever-irresistible spice of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and cardamom that make pumpkin candies so delicious and fill the house with the tantalizing scent of seasonal spices. And that’s something to get excited about.

This week I took advantage of the glut of pumpkins at the market to make a batch of pumpkin puree for the freezer; in Moscow, anyone who knows how to enchant a pumpkin pie will always be the heroine of the Thanksgiving expat. With freezer space limited, I ended up with more mash than I needed and put the spice theory to the test, with one of the humblest cooking projects imaginable: pumpkin bread. It can be really horrible or divine and if you want the divine you have to overload the spices and make the texture chewy and mushy rather than dry and crumbly. I’ve based the recipe below on a New York Times fail safe recipe, which gives the right consistency of a chewy crumb and a slightly chewy exterior: the perfect compromise between cake and bread. The spice additions are mine, as is the frosting, which is optional, but I love the contrast of the acidic flavor of sea buckthorn with the softer pumpkin background, enhanced with the lively notes of riot. autumnal spices.

A slice of this bread even puts me in an autumnal “pumpkin spice” atmosphere at any time of the day or night: this pumpkin bread is the perfect accompaniment for morning coffee, afternoon tea. noon or a glass of milk at the end of the evening… or even something. stronger. Try it, while pumpkins are still ubiquitous!

Ingredients

For the bread

  • 2 ½ cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon of chili
  • 1 teaspoon of cardamom seeds, crushed
  • ½ cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (200 grams) of white sugar
  • ¾ cup (165 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature, beaten together
  • 2 â…› cups (425 grams) of pumpkin puree made from half of a medium-sized pumpkin or small pumpkin (or about 1 kilo or 2 pounds of pumpkin).
  • ¼ cup (62 grams) Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of bourbon or dark rum
  • â…” cup (110 grams) finely chopped candied ginger
  • Cooking spray or 1 tablespoon of butter to grease the loaf pan

For the icing

  • â…” cup (112 grams) frozen sea buckthorn berries
  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup (120 grams) icing sugar

Instructions

Make the pumpkin puree

  • Preheat the oven to 450 ºF (230 ºC). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Cut the pumpkin into eighths and cut or remove the seeds and stringy pieces. Lightly brush the pumpkin with vegetable oil or olive oil and roast for 35 to 40 minutes until the flesh of the pumpkin can be pierced easily with a knife.
  • Cool the pumpkin to room temperature, then remove the rind.
  • Mash the pumpkin flesh like you would potatoes or go through a food processor for a smoother texture.
  • Store it in an airtight container until you are ready to use it, or freeze it for up to three months.

Make the pumpkin bread

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Spray 9 x 5 inch (1.9 L) loaf pan with cooking spray or butter. Cut a parchment paper sling to line up the width of the pan with several inches to hang from the sides; this will help you remove the bread from the loaf pan once it has cooled.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the spices and whisk together to combine.
  • Whisk together the eggs and oil, then add the pumpkin puree, bourbon or rum, both sugars and Greek yogurt. Whisk until smooth.
  • Stir the dry ingredients into the water with a spatula, handling as gently as possible until all the ingredients are combined. Do this by hand rather than with a mixture to avoid overprocessing. Add the candied ginger at the end. Pour the dough into the prepared cake tin.
  • Bake for 75 to 85 minutes until top of bread comes out to the touch and a skewer is clean or with a few crumbs attached. Leave to cool for 30 minutes on a cooling rack in the cake tin. Take the bread out of the pan with the parchment sling and use an angled spatula if it is stuck at the ends. Let the bread cool for another 25 to 30 minutes before frosting.
  • While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting. Combine the frozen sea buckthorn berries * with the granulated sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the berries dissolve and a thick syrup forms. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve and let cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container until use.
  • When the bread is completely cold, whisk together 3 tablespoons of sea buckthorn syrup with the icing sugar, milk and salt. Place the bread on a cooling rack on a baking sheet and frost it. Wait 10 minutes before serving.

Pumpkin Bread adapted from a New York Times recipe.

* Sea buckthorn berries (ягода облепихи) are easy to find in Russia, especially frozen. Russian stores abroad also tend to stock them in the freezer section. If you can’t get hold of it, replace the syrup and milk with orange juice.


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