Tuesday, October 15, 2013

pumpkin loaf with cream cheese swirl

Fall is absolutely my favorite season. I love to cozy up in sweaters and boots, take Sophie on walks while she prances at the blowing leaves (or just tries to eat them...), and drink and eat things that bring me comfort and joy. One thing that picks up in the fall is my spending habit at Starbucks. Starbucks is literally the place to go for coffee in Chicago--it's on every corner. I know the Pumpkin Spice Latte is all the rage, but I adore the Salted Caramel Mocha. I can't help it! It's divine and delicious and everything you could ever want out of a cup. Another favorite fall item at Starbucks is their mini pumpkin loaf. They are so good!

I've made pumpkin rolls and pumpkin muffins, but wanted to refocus my pumpkin love to a loaf that mimics the mini version at Starbucks. This definitely did the trick. Although it was a small labor of love, it made my apartment smell fantastic last Saturday morning and made the painful 7 a.m. wake up call thanks to Sophie or so worth it. 

I found this recipe which totally was my guide. It really was pretty spot on for my taste. I do have a few recommended changes to make it even more lovely though, so I've adjusted my recipe slightly.

Pumpkin Loaf with Cream Cheese Swirl (makes 1 large loaf)

What You Need
-2 cups all purpose flour
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon all-spice
-2 eggs
-3/4 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 can of pumpkin puree
-1 teaspoon maple syrup
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used my homemade stuff found here)
-1/2 cup applesauce (again, homemade and done in the crockpot)
-3 tablespoons canola oil

Cream Cheese Swirl
-4 ounces cream cheese
-1/8 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons all purpose flour
-1 egg white
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift all dry ingredients together in a bowl, then set aside. Then, combine all the wet ingredients in another bowl until mixed well. (I used my KitchenAid Mixer bowl and this was such a great idea and saved me a lot of work.)

After wet ingredients are mixed well, add in 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients until just combined. Continue adding the dry ingredient mixture into the web until just combined. Grease your loaf pan and fill with batter 3/4 of the way. (I went with making one large loaf, but you could certainly do mini loafs if you prefer.)

Next: whip up the cream cheese frosting. Combine all ingredients and beat for one minute. Again, the KitchenAid mixer was a dream for this. 

To make the swirl, place a line of cream cheese down the center of your loaf with approximately two tablespoons of your cream cheese mixture. Use a knife and go back and forth in the mixture to create the slight swirl. 

Bake in preheated oven for approximately 50 minutes to an hour. When you can stick a knife in the center and it comes out clean, it is done. (With a large loaf like this, I had to check on this a bit more often that I would've anticipated. The very center was what took longest. I knew once the top of the loaf started cracking into a beautiful marble pattern and the cream cheese swirl started getting some color that it was about ready to come out of the oven.)

My thoughts: 

The original recipe used one cup of pumpkin puree, but I didn't think that was enough for my tastes. I typically always use Libby's canned pumpkin puree, so using the entire can I think is recommended for a more distinct flavor. 

I think because I did one large loaf, I didn't get as much cream cheese taste as I would've liked. This might have not been the case if I made mini loaves, but you live and learn I guess! If I were doing this recipe again with one big loaf, I would instead put half the pumpkin loaf batter in the pan, do an entire layer of the cream cheese frosting, add the rest of the pumpkin loaf batter, and top off the loaf with the cream cheese swirl. That probably would satisfy me a little bit better.

But the smell, taste, and look was unreal.

Even though the leaves have yet to have any real color on them, at least in my neighborhood in the city, this brought me to my fall happy place. This has kept up for the past 4 days (today it is no more because I kind of ate the rest of it...!) and is great served warm or cold. Top it off with a cup of coffee (Salted Caramel Mocha anyone?) and it is the perfect fall treat.