25 August, 2012

Bring on the Autumn!!

I just came home from spending 2 weeks in Minnesota.  I was there for my big brother's wedding.  He married the most AH-mazing woman!  I love her to pieces...she really was meant to be one of my sisters.  There's no better feeling than that.  We spent 4.5 days in the Minneapolis area and 4.5 days in the Duluth area, where I am originally from.

 One morning, as I was walking out to my Momma's garden for a "shoot" (being a photographer she takes full advantage of my talent and has me take pictures of her garden every summer that I come), I took a deep breath and could feel the temperature was hanging just around 50F.  Mighty chilly for an August morning, even in Duluth.  August is usually the "grossest" month for heat and humidity everywhere in Duluth, even by "the lake".  It reminded me that my favorite season, autumn, is right around the corner.

I spent a lot of time in her garden taking pictures.  One thing that was evident is that it is very near to the end of the growing season.  Most of what was left were vined fruits, tree fruits and veggies.  Her grapes, squashes, pickling cukes, beans, pears and apples.  It was like a autumn farm market waiting to happen.  It made me want to eat some pumpkin...NOW!  I don't usually get like that until its really time for pumpkin pie and stuffing....and my favorite, green bean casserole!

 Pumpkin bread is something I make every year, but over the years I have come to love fiddling with it.  My favorite way to dress up my pumpkin bread is to add a rich praline crumble to the top.  It gives it an extra little boost aesthetically and adds an incredibly soft, crunch to the top of this very moist bread.

Praline Pumpkin Bread 
1 c. oil
2 3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs
15 oz. pumpkin (unflavored)
1.5 c. flour
1.5 c. cake flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

 Praline Topping
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. pecans, crushed

Preheat oven to 350F

Mix the oil, sugar, and eggs together until smooth.  Add the pumpkin, and mix well.  In a medium bowl, add all the dry ingredients together and stir with a whisk.  Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture.

For praline topping, cut butter into brown sugar and salt.  Crush pecans and add them to the butter/sugar mixture. 

Grease and flour two 9x5x2 inch loaf pans or 7 mini loaf pans.  Divide the batter evenly between the pans, sprinkle the praline topping over middle evenly.  

Bake for 55-65 minutes for the bigger loaves and 35-45 minutes for the mini loaves, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack. 

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