Pumpkin & Cranberry Bread with Pumpkin Seed Brittle and Cranberry Compote
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Serves: 2 Loaves
I’ve adjusted my seasonal frame of mind to Fall mode, which translates to being all-in on a Fall baking routine. On an expedition to the pantry, I grabbed a can of pumpkin and a package of dried cranberries, which seemed like a good start, and the result was this Pumpkin & Cranberry Bread. This recipe makes two generous loaves, is moist and rich with plenty of pumpkin and warm spices, and then gets a just-right little boost of sweet and tart with dried cranberries. You can stop right there if you want, but there’s also a Cranberry Compote to spoon over your bread that is loaded with both fresh and dried cranberries. And for the crunch factor, there’s a Salted Pumpkin Seed Brittle. All three together makes for a happy Fall memory. Put a log on the fire, grab a good book and a hot beverage, and for Pete’s sake, don’t skimp on the Bread. Colder weather requires we keep our strength up.
  • 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups brown sugar plus and extra ¼ cup for sprinkling on top if you feel like it
  • 2 teaspoons soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  • ½ cup canola or other neutral oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs (If you’d rather make a smaller batch, just cut the recipe in half. Cutting 3 eggs in half isn’t that easy, but just use 1 whole egg and crack the second egg and whisk it well, then measure out half, which should be about 2 tablespoons).
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water (NOTE: this gets pretty thick, so you’ll most likely need additional water to thin it down if you cool and reheat it)
  • ¼ cup honey or agave
  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • About 2 teaspoons oil and 1 teaspoon salt for roasting the seeds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Coarse sea salt for sprinkling on the Brittle after it’s ready to set up
  2. Heat your oven to 350 degrees and spray 2 loaf pans with cooking or baking spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice.
  4. Stir in the chopped dried cranberries
  5. In a medium bowl, stir together until well combined: oil, buttermilk, eggs, pumpkin puree, and vanilla.
  6. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, only until combined. It’s important not to overmix or you’ll end up with tough bread, which is not desirable.
  7. Divide the batter between the two loaf pans – pans can be filled up to about ½ inch from the top of the pan. If you find that you have too much batter on your hands (all loaf pans are not created equal), you can make the rest into muffins or a smaller loaf if you happen to have one of those pans. Sprinkle the top of the pans with some brown sugar.
  8. Bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with dry crumbs, not wet batter.
  9. Cool on a cooling rack until you can’t stand it anymore, remove from pans, then dive in.
  11. In a medium saucepan, combine the fresh cranberries, sugar, and water. Bring to boil, then simmer until berries are softened which will take just a few minutes.
  12. Stir in the dried cranberries and continue cooking for a few minutes. Stir in the honey and give it a taste. Add more honey if you’d like it sweeter.
  13. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  15. First get started on roasting your pumpkin seeds: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  16. Place the pumpkin seeds on the foil, drizzle or spray with canola or other neutral oil, and sprinkle with salt.
  17. Roast for about 10 minutes or until the seeds start to turn color. They don’t all have to be brown, but some of them will start to look that way. The best indicator is your own nose – you’ll smell the seeds when they’re pretty much ready. Remove from the oven and set aside to come to room temperature. Most likely they will make some popping sounds which is pretty cool.
  18. Now for the caramel – DON’T PANIC!! This is really pretty easy. First of all though, let’s take care of a couple of other things. Get out a sheet pan and line it with a Silpat mat if you have one or parchment paper. Butter or spray the Silpat or parchment generously. You’re going to be pouring some hot sugar concoction on top of that pretty soon, and that last think you want is for all of that stuff to stick – so don’t be stingy with the pan preparation.
  19. Put your roasted pumpkin seeds in a bowl that will be easy to pour from. Once that caramel is ready, you’re going to have to move fast and pour in your seeds so it’s good to be ready.
  20. Now…if you have a skillet that is shiny you are in good shape. If not, any shiny type pan will work, but the bigger on the bottom the better. That’s because we want that sugar to caramelize as quickly as possible since we’ve got better things to do than stand around and watch sugar boil all day.
  21. Where was I? OK, back on track…. combine the water and sugar in the pan and stir to blend together. Try not to splash a lot of the sugar water on the sides of the pan because it will get too hot and crystalize and be a big mess.
  22. Cook this sugar and water mixture over medium high heat until it bubbles and begins to turn an amber brown color and DO NOT STIR. You’re probably asking yourself “What the heck does that mean?” and I don’t blame you one bit, however, this is what most recipes will tell you so here’s my interpretation: You’re not going to want to step away from the stovetop while all of this is going on because while it can seem to take a lot of time, it also can go from just right to burnt in seconds. So: turn your burner on to medium high, and just stand there and watch the pan. You’ll start to see bubbles…then more bubbles…and thicker looking bubbles. This will go on for at least 10 minutes and maybe as long as 15 minutes. Again, DO NOT STIR, but if you’d like to gently jiggle the pan from time to time it won’t hurt anything as far as I could see.
  23. Keep looking, and all of a sudden, you’ll see a color shift which is when things start happening fast. The color you are looking for is that of a nice amber beer – not a dark beer like an IPA, but more of light brown color.
  24. Once you get there, you’ve got to move quickly. Take the pan off the stove and be careful!! That stuff is really, really hot. Immediately pour in your roasted pumpkin seeds and stir to combine.
  25. Now, as quickly as you can, pour all of that mixture onto your prepared parchment paper or Silpat mat. Spread it around so it’s in a nice kind of thin layer, then sprinkle with sea salt. The amount of sea salt is totally up to you, but a nice, even sprinkle is just right for me. This brittle is super sweet, and the salt adds a much-needed balance.
  26. Allow all of this beautiful creation to cool, which should take about 10 minutes. At that point you can break into pieces and chow down.
Recipe by Bird's Nest Bites at https://birdsnestbites.com/pumpkin-cranberry-bread-with-pumpkin-seed-brittle-and-cranberry-compote/