New year, new (quick) bread

I started this blog almoIMG_1956st three years ago. Wow. Admittedly, my dedication to the posting of new entries has waxed and waned over time, but hopefully this entry indicates a returned sense of motivation and inspiration. My very first entry was in January 2013 and I made banana bread. It was, as this blog always seeks to do, the tale of my foray into a new recipe that I had never made before.

Little did I know that that first Leslie Cooked This entry would be so pivotal.Up until that point, I believe I had only used my loaf pan once before. Now I use it all the time. Banana bread – that exact recipe for banana bread, to be precise – is a part of my repertoire. More importantly, the practice of trying new recipes, documenting my experiments, and immersing myself in the culinary world (through cookbooks, magazines, websites, and Instagram feeds) is a major part of my day-to-day life.

IMG_1957I’ve come a long way in my pursuit of all things homemade and I’m excited to see where this new year takes me.

In thinking of where to start this year – and re-start the blog – it seemed appropriate to return to my loaf pan. Or should I say pans? I have three now. I TOLD you I had come a long way.

I chose the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. Anyone out there who has read my blog before will know that the Baked books are my baking go-to. While I have plenty of other cookbooks and blogs at my disposal, I always find myself wandering back to the sure-fire recipes of Lewis and Poliafito.

What I love most about quickbreads is the fact that, as the name suggests, they are quick. For the most part, no specialty equipment is required. The entire thing can be made with two bowls and a whisk.

IMG_1958Bowl one held flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, baking soda, and salt. In a world obsessed with the mysteries of ‘pumpkin spice,’ I appreciated that this one allowed me to make my own blend, as opposed to buying some pre-mixed, ambiguous flavoring.

Bowl two included a can of pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and the all-important semisweet chocolate chips (they really do make everything better, don’t they?).

Bowl one was folded into bowl two, and then the ingredients of this single bowl were divided between my two loaf pans. Not long after the pans were popped into the oven did the kitchen begin to fill with the rich aroma of pumpkin goodness.

Ironically, while the preparation of quickbreads is indeed quick, there is nothing quick about the baking. This is especially true for me because my oven is slow to heat and always a touch on the cool side. Despite my best efforts, things usually take longer to bake than expected. This slow baking is exacerbated by the fact that I tend to do photomy baking mid-week. Perhaps some of my regular readers have noticed that I usually try these ambitious experiments mid-week. What can I say? I cannot control when inspiration strikes. It is not unusual for me to be up late on a weeknight baking for no apparent reason.

So when this recipe required 90 minutes, as opposed to the 70-75 minutes called for in the recipe, I was getting a little impatient. But the wait was worth it.

Once the loaves had cooled slightly – I even have proper wire racks to cool things these days – Mark and I had to dig in. Sure, it was after 11:00pm on a “school” night by this point, but how could we deprive ourselves?

IMG_1965I left the second loaf out overnight and then wrapped it and stored it in the freezer the next morning. The rest of the first loaf was gobbled up in a couple days. Mark preferred it as a sweet breakfast. I was more inclined to enjoy mine as an after-dinner dessert.

And so you could say our new year started much like the last three – with a new recipe entering the Leslie repertoire, ample baked goodness available morning and night, and the sharing of our lives over good food. May this new year be a continuation of all that makes you happy and content, dear readers. So far, it certainly has been for me.

I’ll see you next week. I promise.



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