Improve your loaf life with this gorgeous gourd

Praise the gourd – they even taste good with chocolate chips

Pumpkin chocolate chip loaf

Pumpkin chocolate chip loaf

 

I love using vegetables in baking. Grated beetroot in brownies, sweet potato puree in muffins and courgette or carrot in cakes. The more we can include vegetables in our diet the better, even if they are whipped into a batter with butter and sugar.

Despite everything, I still think that a homemade cake with real Irish butter, gorgeous free range eggs and organic flour is better than anything you can buy. The beauty is in being able to have full control of the quality and source of the ingredients used in baking and cooking something “from scratch”.

Squash and pumpkin season is here and I love seeing all of the wonderful varieties from the small little white pumpkins to the stripy dark green and yellow. The orange Japanese Hokkaido pumpkins are beautiful too and more traditional. I love using them as decorations this time of year, edible bursts of colour adorning my doorstep, living room and anywhere else I can display them. But it does seem a pity not to eat them.

In an effort to avoid food waste, I’ve been divising lots of delicious recipes that make the most of these gorgeous gourds. Butternut squash is always on the menu but it’s nice to ring in the changes and roast big wedges of pumpkin dusted with smoked sweet paprika.

Cubes of sweet pumpkin are delicious in curries. Roast or steam chunks of pumpkin then use the puree for lasagne, as a mash alternative, in a delicious soup with creamy coconut milk or in desserts. Praise the gourd  they even taste good with chocolate chips.

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This week’s recipe is a loaf cake that’s flecked with grated raw pumpkin and chunks of dark and milk chocolate. I love a good loaf cake. There is always so much eating in one. I usually make banana bread and freeze slices with a little sheet of baking paper in between. They’re perfect for popping into lunch boxes straight from the freezer. A loaf cake is ideal for dessert, tea breaks and lunch boxes.

This recipe is based on Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s pumpkin and raisin tea loaf. I was immediately drawn to it because it calls for grated raw pumpkin, no need to cook it beforehand. You could also use courgette, beetroot or carrot.  The entire loaf is lightened with fluffy egg whites and ground almonds. With a hint of cinnamon, it’s just the right pumpkin spice bake for autumn. I’ve used chunky chocolate chips here but any stray chocolate would be perfect. Toasted chopped pecan nuts would give great texture too. This loaf is gorgeous cut into thick slices and toasted. The perfect decadent breakfast that’s a real treat. 

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP LOAF

Makes 1 large loaf

Ingredients
200g light brown sugar
4 eggs, separated
200g finely grated raw pumpkin
4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g ground almonds
200g self raising flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp dark chocolate chips 
2 tbsp milk chocolate chips

Method
1
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Line a 20 x 10cm loaf tin with baking paper.

2 In a large bowl whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until pale and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add the grated pumpkin, milk, vanilla, ground almonds, flour and cinnamon. Add both chocolate chips and gently mix until combined. 

3 In a spotlessly clean bowl whisk the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Add one tablespoon to the cake batter before gently folding in the remainder. 

4 Spoon into the loaf tin and gently smooth out the top. Bake for about one hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. Slice once cool.

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