Pumpkin Spiced Bread

It’s officially fall here in Virginia! And even though I hate to say goodbye to the summer sun, there are so many cozy things about this season that warm my heart. There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are falling, and I love nothing more than to sit lazily around the fire at night, laughing and enjoying sweet time with my family.

Fall flavors are just as important to creating the cozy feeling I love so much. I’m actually tempted to live solely on apple butter and pumpkin pie. Instead, I try to look for every excuse to enjoy those favorite fall flavors into everyday eating, while still making healthier choices. This is a recipe for a lightly sweetened pumpkin bread based on this recipe with a little bit of chocolate and hazelnut fun. It’s made a teensy bit healthier by cutting down on sugars and substituting some whole wheat flour.

Pumpkin Spiced Cake with Chocolate & Hazelnuts
Serves 20, makes 2 loaves

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups cane sugar
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (unflavored if using canned – see below)
1 tsp coconut oil (or butter or cooking spray)
1/2 cup melting chocolate
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts

Preheat your oven to 350. Using coconut oil, grease two medium loaf pans well. Combine the flours, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, vanilla, and eggs and mix with a hand mixer for about 2 minutes or until fluffy. Stir in the pumpkin puree. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients slowly, continuing to mix on medium until incorporated. Pour mixture into the loaf pans and bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Always test it with a toothpick! Allow to cool.
Roughly chop the hazelnuts. Warm the melting chocolate in the microwave until soft, about 2 minutes, stirring every 30-40 seconds. Spread the chocolate evenly on top of the breads. While it is still soft and warm, top the chocolate with chopped hazelnuts. Allow to cool at room temperature. Slice and serve with a hot cup of coffee!

My favorite way to make pumpkin puree: Preheat oven to 300. Wash the pumpkin, slice in half from top to bottom and remove the stem. Scrape seeds out with a spoon (save them and roast em up or make pumpkin seed butter!) and place each half face down (skins facing up) on a cookie sheet. Bake for about an hour or until you can easily slide a knife through. Once cooled, remove the flesh from the skins and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. You can freeze in an airtight container or enjoy right away.