Pumpkin and Cheese
Making Wickedly Delicious Love
Pumpkins are a cultural icon, evoking cozy memories of childhood carvings, romps through vine-covered patches, costumes sticky with Halloween candy, and warm, sweet spices. You don’t have to love the pumpkin for its jolly symbolism, and I know many abhor the poor gourd due to incessant overuse the moment August rolls into September. To be fair, it’s not the pumpkin that has been bastardized, but the array of spices that tend to accompany it in baked goods. The pumpkin itself is a thing to revere, especially when roasted and pureed into a thick, buttery paste filled with a wealth of nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. If you get your hands on a really good pumpkin, its pureed flesh will also deliver a luscious, nutty sweetness that is especially delightful when baked in a hearty bread that’s smeared with tangy dairy. Alas, it’s generally wasted on oily loaves with frostings so sweet they could rot a tooth clean from the gum, while most healthy versions aren’t worth eating. This recipe, on the other hand, combines a simple, wholesome pumpkin bread with a maple-kissed spread of real cheese.
Excuse me while I toot my own horn, but I consider this loaf a prize amongst the glut of “healthy” pumpkin bread recipes circulating the net. Most whole-wheat pumpkin breads wring the moisture from the velvety crumb that defines any good pumpkin bread, resulting in a powder-dry brick. Here, the combination of buckwheat flour, coconut oil, and kefir lighten the texture, moisten the crumb, and enrich this recipe with protein, probiotics, and healthy fats. A thick slice is a wholesome and complete breakfast, especially when slathered with the rich cheesy spread.
The frosting-like cheese spread is both wholesome and entirely enchanting on your palate. Both cheese and butter should be high-quality and grassfed. The resulting spread is more tangy and less smooth than cream cheese frosting, with a lovely complexity and, of course, better nutrition. Compared to cream cheese frosting, this cheese spread has less fat and sugar, and more protein and nutrients. I made this recipe with several soft cheeses, from fresh Quark from Milton Creamery in Iowa to fluffy Driftless sheep’s milk cheese from Hidden Springs Dairy in Wisconsin, all with great success. My favorite version whipped a spreadable chevre with sea salt-speckled cultured butter, both from Vermont Butter and Creamery.
- Honey Wheat Pumpkin Bread with Maple Cheese Frosting
- Adapted from Cookie and Kate
- For pumpkin bread
- 1/4 cup gently melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup kefir
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon + a pinch to top
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
- Toasted pepitas to top (optional)
- For frosting
- 5 ounces fresh cheese
- 2 ounces cultured butter (plus extra for pan)
- 2 teaspoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon local honey
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease your loaf pan with a bit of butter.
- In a large bowl, beat together the oil and syrup. Add eggs and beat until no strings of egg white remain. Whisk in the pumpkin puree, kefir and vanilla.
- In a seperate bowl, whisk together the salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, flour, and baking soda.
- Add dry ingredients to wet, and fold together in about twelve strokes. Do not over stir.
- Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Use a rubber spatula to get all of that good stuff into the pan. Sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar and pepitas.
- Bake for 55 - 60 minutes. Be sure to use a clean butter knife to test for doneness. If the knife pulls out clean, you're good to go. Let cool for 30 minutes.
- While the bread is cooling, beat together the frosting ingredients until smooth. Set aside
- Cut into generously thick slices. and serve with heavy smearing of cheese butter.
- Equipment: whisk, 2 mixing bowls, 9 x 5 loaf pan