Quick Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Bread

With a hurricane rapidly approaching the New York shores and the bakery smack dab in the middle of evacuation zone A I found myself with a day off and a storm to prepare for. I needed a flashlight, extra water, non perishables, and obviously some sort of freshly baked delicacy to see me through whatever terrible situation Sandy was about to put me in.

I wanted something warm, satisfying and hearty – especially if all hell was to break loose and I’d be confined to my apartment for days on end – I knew what I wanted: pumpkin…in the form of bread.

Now, is it me or does pumpkin seem to be on the verge of total overexposure (doesn’t it seem to BE everywhere and IN everything!?) I know it’s a seasonal flavor but what makes it something that everyone goes completely nuts over!? Myself included! It seems the moment the warm weather breaks and the first leaves are falling all I can think about are pumpkin lattes, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin everything! If you get just as cuckoo over pumpkin as me (and what seems like the rest of the country) – add this recipe to the list of those you’ll be trying this fall…quick, seasonal, warming, wonderful.

*Note: If you haven’t gotten around to buying your yearly pumpkin pie spice ration – not to worry – here’s a quick recipe for pumpkin pie spice in a pinch (I know, I’m assuming you have these other four spices on hand but I have faith in your pantries…)

1 ½ t cinnamon
½ t ginger
½ t nutmeg
¼ t cloves

2 cups AP flour
2 t pumpkin pie spice (or homemade blend, see recipe above)
1 t baking powder
¾ t salt
½ t baking soda
6 T (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 t vanilla extract
2/3 cup buttermilk
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup toasted chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and place a sheet of parchment along the long sides of the pan for easy removal. Gather all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.

In the bowl of an electric mixer (or large mixing bowl…) beat the butter until fluffy. Add the cup of sugar and beat until creamed. Add eggs followed by the pumpkin puree and then the vanilla. Take care to scrape down the sides of the bowl – you don’t want to miss any of the goodness! Beat in the dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk. Don’t overmix!As soon as almost all of the flour mixture is incorporated use a spoon or spatula to fold in the cranberries and walnuts. Spoon all of the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth the top and place in the hot oven. It should take about an hour to bake. Cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the plan.Serve with tea, butter, coffee, toast it or just leave it out on your counter and grab a piece every time you walk by…it’s good in every scenario. And if this dense yet incredibly moist and satisfying treat can get me through this hurricane it will surely see you through any typical rainy day – trust me…it’s that. good.