Friday, October 5, 2012

Hot & Spicy Pumpkin-Chili Pepper Bread

My hot and spicy pumpkin & chili pepper bread is a different take on traditional pumpkin bread recipes, which are usually very sweet and only "spicy" in the sense that they call for cinnamon, nutmeg and other "warm" autumnal spices. In contrast, this bread is more savory, has a definite fiery kick from two kinds of hot peppers, and a deep, earthy flavor that hints at smokiness.

I used the pulp from a smoked pumpkin (instructions on how to smoke a pumpkin are included in this prior post on Smoked Pumpkin Pie). If you don't want to smoke a pumpkin, you can use regular cooked pumpkin puree, including canned. Just make sure it's pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, and drain any excess liquid.

This is a quick bread, which means it doesn't use yeast and there's no rising time. My recipe below makes a pretty hot bread, probably too hot for people who don't eat much spicy food. You can control the spicy heat by the type of dried pepper and the amount of smoked habanero powder you use. If you're concerned about the heat level, substitute a milder chili pepper powder (pure ground peppers, not a chili powder blend containing other spices such as cumin) or a mild smoked paprika, and use a mild dried chile like ancho or Anaheim pepper. Or, use two different peppers for a more complex flavor.

Enjoy my hot & spicy pumpkin-chili pepper bread with butter, cream cheese--it's divine with pumpkin cream cheese or maple-walnut cream cheese--or with a scoop of ice cream (vanilla, cinnamon, or coffee).

1 large egg, beaten
1 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (smoked pumpkin is best)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground smoked habanero powder

1 or 2 dried New Mexico chilies or other large dried chilies (or 4 to 6 smaller dried chilies)

Place dried chilies in a small bowl and cover with hot water to rehydrate. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 5" x 9" bread pan with butter. Mix together the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl stir together the remaining ingredients except the dried chilies. When the chilies are soft enough to cut, remove from water (reserve the water) and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to coarsely chop.

Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet and stir until thoroughly combined into a fairly stiff dough. If the dough is too dry, add a little bit of the soaking water from the dried chilies (I ended up adding 1/4 cup). Fold in the chopped dried chilies, then transfer the dough into the greased bread pan and place on center rack in oven. Bake at 350°F until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 1 hr 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hrs. Remove pan from oven and let sit for a few minutes, then carefully turn out onto a cooling rack until cool enough to handle. Wait until bread comes to room temperature before wrapping or otherwise storing. You can keep it at room temperature for a day, but after that it's best to refrigerate.

Zestfully yours,

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