Monday, November 23, 2009

Spices...A Case of Mistaken Identity

I'm not sure why The Great Spirit in the Pie has it in for me, but I always manage to screw something up when it comes to baking. Most of you have, no doubt, tasted something great from my oven, Unfortunately, for every happy ending there are probably 15 flops.

Sure, everyone has had some sort of problem with a fancy fold-in-the-whipped-egg-whites kind of project. But today's adventure was pumpkin bread. No yeast to turn out dead. No egg whites to slump over. Just basic yummy things like butter and sugar, flour and spices, canned pumpkin for heaven's sake!

Oh, did I say spices? I always buy my spices in bulk at PCC because they are amazing and it is sooo much cheaper than a whole bottle of something. Long long ago I restocked my ground ginger, which I rarely use. Normally, fresh will do just fine. Baked goods, however, usually require powdered versions of spices.

This recipe had the usual cinnamon, along with other "holiday" spices like cloves and nutmeg and a bit of ginger. I'll admit, I knew something was off the second I unscrewed the cap. Knew something was seemingly off as I scooped up that 1/2 teaspoonful (I was doubling the recipe to save time). That something kept gnawing at my mind as I thoroughly incorporated those spices into the mix.

Called my friend, the pumpkin bread master. "Uh, does your ground ginger smell a lot like garlic powder?" "Hmm," she replied, "No, it smells a lot like ginger." Nuts!

Long long ago when I restocked that ginger, I must have also restocked my garlic powder. They are identical in color. But oh so different in taste, especially in something meant to be sweet.

The funny thing is, no one seems to notice. I mean, I can't get past the knowledge that the pumpkin bread has garlic powder in it. I'm sure I can smell it. But the bread is disappearing none the less. Happy accident? I think not. But I guess it wasn't too big of a flop!

"Spiced Pumpkin Bread"

1 3/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger (careful, now)
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c canned pumpkin
3/4 c chocolate chips
3/4 c chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease one large or three small loaf pans; set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add the pumpkin and blend well. Stir in dry ingredients with a spoon; do not over mix. Stir in the chocolate and the nuts if using.

Spoon batter into the pan and bake for one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. If necessary, tent the pans with foil. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. Great with a little cream cheese.
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