As I write this, early autumn rain is pouring and the wind is whipping around, making tree branches rattle against our windows. It’s hard to believe just two weeks ago it was 100º out and instead of the thick wool sweater I’m wearing today I was still enjoying sandals and sunglasses. But instead of mourning the passing of another short summer, I’m deciding this year to embrace fall and all its coziness with open arms. Bring on the soggy leaves, mud puddles and constant gray drizzle! I’m going to be curled up on the couch with my pumpkin bread, hot tea and a book, and when you have comforts like those, you hardly notice the new chill in the air.
The past week has been unusually hectic with multiple work deadlines for me, the first week of school for P and another health scare for Bisou. I didn’t think I’d find the time for a post this week, but yesterday all of my scrambling during the week paid off and I was able to start the long weekend by mid-afternoon. The first thing I did was whip up this (relatively) healthy pumpkin loaf. I’m not usually much of a baker; as much as I love sweets, a glance through most dessert recipes is enough to put me off actually making them. All that refined sugar and saturated fat! So I’m happy to share this pumpkin olive oil loaf with you which is incredibly moist, sweet and all around tasty and completely free of refined sugar and animal fats. Who knew it could be done? If you add the optional rosemary buttercream, you’ll be getting a good dose of all that sugar and butter stuff, but the pumpkin bread is rich and flavorful enough to stand on its own if you’re looking for a truly healthy and wholesome dessert.
When I do frost something, this rosemary infused buttercream is my absolute favorite. I’ve talked about my affection for sweet and savory flavor combos before, and the sweetness of the pumpkin pairs wonderfully with the earthy, herbal rosemary. Don’t be scared away by the word infusion; all it entails is simmering some butter with fresh rosemary sprigs, then letting them steep for a while. The pumpkin loaf itself is quick and easy, too. It’s sweetened with honey instead of white sugar, and I like to use olive oil in my baking as a healthier alternative to butter. When baking with olive oil, be sure to choose one with mild flavor, or it can be overpowering in the end product.
I’m endlessly grateful to P for his support with everything I do. This week at work was a tough one for him, but he still came home and immediately helped me with my work every single day and didn’t complain when I worked on my computer late into the night. I surprised him with this pumpkin loaf when he came home yesterday as a small thank you for all his hard work and patience. He gave it a rave review, so this recipe is a keeper for us. If there’s someone in your life who deserves a tasty thank you or a sweet pick me up to start the fall season, this pumpkin loaf is a good place to start.
As usual, if you try this recipe share it with #craftsandacat so we can see what you’ve made! Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!
Pumpkin Olive Oil Loaf with Rosemary Buttercream
For the pumpkin loaf
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 cup pumpkin purée canned or from scratch; see below
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1/3 cup olive oil
For the rosemary infused buttercream
- 1/2 cup 1 stick butter
- a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. whipping cream or milk
To make the rosemary buttercream, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the rosemary sprigs. Bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally until butter is frothy and rosemary has begun to wilt, 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let rosemary steep for one hour then remove sprigs. Let butter cool to room temperature before continuing. You can do this step in advance and refrigerate the infused butter overnight.
Cream butter and sugar, adding slowly until smooth. Add cream or milk and stir to combine. If the buttercream is too runny, add a little more sugar. If too thick, add a little milk.
For the pumpkin loaf, mix wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl. You can use canned pumpkin purée in a pinch, but homemade purée is delicious and easy if you've got the time. The rest can be frozen and used later as a soup base! Simply slice a pumpkin in half, scrape out seeds, sprinkle flesh with salt and pierce several times with a fork or knife. Roast sides face down at 400º until soft enough that a fork can easily pierce the flesh. Baking time will vary according to size of the pumpkin; start checking around 20 minutes. Peel the skin off and process in a blender until smooth. Done!
Mix dry ingredients separately, then add slowly to wet ingredients, stirring until combined. Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake at 325º until there is no more "jiggle" on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 50-65 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting with the buttercream.